Croatia Airlines plans to further expand its network in order to keep up with increasing demand for leisure destinations. The carrier says that additional growth will be fuelled by Croatia's thriving tourism industry in the years to come. Apart from the four new seasonal routes being launched out of Zagreb later this week, Croatia Airlines also introduced another four summer destinations last year. "After several years of recession, there is a slight recovery in the Croatian economy and the market requires new leisure destinations. This is why we expect that many travellers, both from Croatia and our new markets, will use our products more", Croatia Airlines' CEO, Krešimir Kučko, said. He added, "Croatia has been a tourist hit at a global level for several years, not only during the summer season but also in winter. In accordance with these trends and our capacities, in the future, we plan to further expand our European network of destinations and strengthen our position as a regional leader".
Croatia Airlines faces strong competition as low cost and leisure carriers continue to dominate along the coast, with their numbers growing year-on-year. Furthermore, legacy carriers are increasingly starting to take note and are launching seasonal flights to leisure destinations in Croatia. This summer, KLM introduced services to Split, LOT Polish Airlines and Lufthansa to Pula, while British Airways will also commence flights between London Heathrow and Pula later this summer. Last year, Croatia Airlines' market share in its home country averaged only 20% during the peak summer months of June, July and August, when it generates the bulk of its annual traffic. "In the last few years our market has been inundated by competitors such as KLM, Qatar Airways, a bunch of low cost carriers and many others. Under these circumstances it is logical that our market share has decreased", Mr Kučko previously said.
The airline's CEO noted that out its four upcoming new routes from Zagreb, Oslo has proven to be one of the most successful. "Our four new routes this year have been introduced based on internal analysis and market research, which showed significant potential in the Scandinavian and Romanian markets. So far, there is great interest for flights to Oslo and this route has proven to be a big hit", Mr Kučko said. He added that bookings for its four seasonal routes launched last year have now exceeded the total number of passengers transported on these flights in 2016, which the CEO says "confirms the fact that we have made the right business decision".