Monday, August 28, 2017

Thai AirAsia X considering Croatia flights


Thailand's long haul low cost carrier, Thai AirAsia X, is considering launching flights to Croatia next year as it expands its fleet and grows its route network. The introduction of flights to Croatia will depend on an ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) audit of Thailand's Civil Aviation Authority this September. Currently, a number of countries have banned Thai carriers from introducing new routes due to safety concerns. However, once clearance is secured from ICAO, as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency, Thai AirAsia X plans to introduce regular services from its base at Bangkok's secondary airport, Don Mueang, to Eastern Europe by adding three to four Airbus A330-300 aircraft to its existing fleet of six jets of the same type.

The CEO of Thai AirAsia X, Tassapon Bijleveld, did not specify which destinations the carrier plans on launching in the coming period but cited Croatia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Poland as possibilities. He described Eastern Europe as less competitive with high market potential. "We are not looking at major European cities like London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam or Paris, which are highly competitive with little chance of making money. Realistically, embarking on Eastern European flights would take six months, meaning services could begin in the second half of 2018", Mr Bijleveld told the "Bangkok Post". The airline currently maintains services to Japan, South Korea and China, but plans on expanding in these markets as well. Previously, it also served Muscat in Oman and Tehran in Iran, however, these flights were later suspended.

Thai AirAsia X economy class cabin

Thai AirAsia X is part of the Malaysian low cost Air Asia Group, which runs airlines in China, Vietnam, India, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, in addition to Thailand and Malaysia itself. Its Thai long haul unit operates from Bangkok's low cost, and former main airport, Don Mueng. Its A330s feature 377-seats with twelve in premium class and the remaining 365 seats in economy. The Croatian Minister for Tourism, Gari Cappelli, recently said the country is looking at securing flights from far-away markets in the coming period and is in talks with a number of carriers. Mr Cappelli, said, "The Ministry's strategic goal is to develop Croatia as a destination which is accessible to various airlines, particularly before and after the height of the summer season. We are directing a part of our funds towards closer cooperation with carriers, which will result in more flights to all of our airports. We are turning towards the Far East and the Middle East. Since January, we have been in talks with a number of large global and European airlines, as well as tour operators. I am certain that the result of these talks will be visible next year with a strong increase in visitors from non-traditional markets". Mr Cappelli singled out South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan as key markets.

136 comments:

  1. wow this would be fantastic! :)

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  2. If these flights start who are they targeting? Asian tourists?

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    1. A lot of Thais holiday in Croatia, and many Croatians go to Thailand on holidays. So both way traffic.

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    2. Interesting. Wonder if it would be seasonal or year round.

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    3. Thais holiday in Croatia? That's interesting.

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    4. I think it will largely be targeted at younger Australian backpackers.

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    5. ^ How? They don't fly from Australia to Bangkok. They fly from Australia to Kuala Lumpur but I doubt somebody would go Sydney-Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok-Zagreb if they can just go Sydney-Dubai-Zagreb.

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    6. You would be surprised what people would do to save a few bucks. Especially younger travelers, backpackers etc. They will travel half way around the world in the opposite direction if necessary to save money.

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    7. @ Anonymous 9:16. Seasonal is much more realistic. Who from their target group will fly to Croatia in the winter?

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    8. @9.12 How many Thais visited Croatia last year?

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    9. Dec - Feb is high season in Thailand.

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    10. Jun-Sep is high season in Croatia.

      Ideal for year round flights!

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    11. Very strange indeed. There are so many LCC options here in Europe that the govt could incentivise to fly to Croatia, with much greater volume potential.

      But that also runs contrary to what the very same Minister has said earlier - "we want quality tourists, not volume". That being the case, Air Asia X flies ultra price sensitive pax - especially backpackers - so why would he contradict himself, especially if the govt is going to provide funds for such flights ?

      Sure it will grow arrival numbers, but it will not bring the "quality" that he has spoken about.

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    12. @AnonymousAugust 28, 2017 at 9:32 AM

      Yes, 20 300 visitors from Thailand this year, last year 17220 visitors from Thailand.

      Estimate for this year could be 25-30 000 visitors, mostly due to Emirates. Number of Indian tourist is also up, 44000 so far this year. Last year 35000, Indonesian visitor numbers are also up from 7000 last year to 8000 so far this year (first 6 months), number of Chinese visitors is up by 44% to 110 000 for first 7 months, expected between 140 and 160 000 Chinese mainland visitors. 30-32000 from Hong Kong, 110-120 000 from Taiwan. 6000 Visitors from UAE, which is increase by 60%. Number of Australians is also up, 150 000 in first 7 months, 175 000 expected to visit this year. 30 000 New Zealanders visited Croatia this year, this is 20% more than last year.

      If this airline does get a go-ahead and starts flights to Zagreb or Croatia, don't worry about number of visitors from the far east, people will come.

      @AnonymousAugust 28, 2017 at 10:57 AM

      17220

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  3. Would they fly to Zagreb? Or maybe Dubrovnik?

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    1. Most probably Zagreb. It would he year round traffic and Zagreb-EU is much better connected year round.

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  4. Does AirAsia Thailand also offer connections to other airlines in the Air Asia group? Because if they do it would be easy to transfer through Bangkok to another 20 destinations they fly from Don Mueang.

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    1. Yes, all tickets are sold on the Air Asia site which doesn't differentiate between all the airlines in the group.

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    2. Thanks! That's excellent then.

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  5. Pity it's not Kuala Lumpur since it would offer more transfer options, especially from Australia. But this is still amazing.

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    1. Still enough connections from DMK, to all Indochina, China, Philippines, Seoul, Japan...

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    2. Zagreb used to have flights from Kuala Lumpur. During the 1990s and early 2000s Malaysia Airlines KUL-VIE-ZAG with B777.

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    3. I really wonder what was the passenger structure on those MH flights. Did they have 5th freedom between Vienna and Zagreb?

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    4. And did it operate in a triangle KUL-VIE-ZAG-KUL or KUL-VIE-ZAG-VIE-KUL?

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    5. They did fly KUL-VIE-ZAG-VIE-KUL. They had fifth freedom between VIE-ZAG. Croatia Airlines even codeshared on these flights and had 60 seats on VIE-ZAG sector.

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    6. Thank you. Do you have an idea what sort of passengers used to fly this route.

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    7. Croats from Australia I assume. Asian tourism in Croatia was almost non existent at the time.

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    8. Alen Šćuric PurgerAugust 28, 2017 at 3:23 PM

      I was on those flights twice. Once to Vienna, and once to Kuala Lumpur.

      There were passengers to VIE + Croatian Diaspora to Australia and Asia + Tourists from Malaysia to Croatia but also from Croatia to Malaysia as Malaysian had perfect short break, stopover and tourist arrangements for 5, 7, 10, 14 days (plane+hotel in some 30 destinations in Kuala Lumpur and Borneo).

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  6. Fingers crossed they choose Croatia.

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  7. Nisu uspeli iz Pariza ali će uspeti iz istočne Evrope.

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    1. Čovjek kaže upravo iz razloga velike konkurentnosti niti ne pokušavaju više sa zapadnom Europom.

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    2. Nije da konkurencije nema u istocnoj Evropi. Da li si video ponude Qatara, Emiratesa i Etihada za Aziju? Cene su neverovatne.

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    3. Which airline to people use the most to get from Croatia to southeast asia?

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    4. @ Anon 12:11: Qatar.

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    5. That's literally impossible because Emirates have only been flying to ZAG for a few months now.

      At least try to think before posting uncorroborated nonsense.

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    6. Yes, everybody stopped selling once EK announced. Lol.

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    7. Kakve veze ima sto je Emirates poceo da leti tek pre par meseci, prodavao je karte, ljudi su leteli preko DXB, FRA.. a sada svakako ima i najveci kapacitet.

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    8. Nije EK svemoguć, QR već 5 godina radi ovdje u ZAG, a ni TK nije baš od jučer. Ne nestaje to samo zato jer se EK pojavio....A kapacitet u smislu broja sjedala nije sve; evo na zimu EK ima samo 5 letova tjedno naspram 10 od QR (tko zna, možda bude i 14) i 10 od TK.

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    9. Znaci, AirAsia ceka lepa konkurencija ;) Ono, putnicima super!

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    10. Ako AirAsia dođe.

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  8. 377 seats in an A330 :O that's really tight.

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    1. Well you can see the size of the seats in the photo. You get what you pay for - the basics.

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    2. Their business class do not look bad at all.

      http://www.btmagazine.nl/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/20141110010-AirAsia-X-Business-Class-Seats.jpg

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    3. Their capacity on the A330 is pretty much the same as Air Transat.

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  9. Great news to start off the week :-)

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  10. Good development for Croatia and tourism industry if this happens.

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    1. And most importantly consumers - lower prices and more destinations available.

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  11. So if they start flights to Zagreb we will have Emirates, Air Asia X, Air Transat and Korean Air all with widebodies.

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    1. And we will probably have flights to the US too next year.

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    2. Probably, probably, probably.
      The magic word on this site.

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    3. What makes you think it will be Zagreb they choose in Croatia?

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    4. I actually think there is more chance of them starting Dubrovnik seasonally.

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    5. No, in DBV is no outbound market.
      In ZAG you have a huge one including SVN.

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  12. how many times they announced flights to Europe? very sceptical about this one

    BKK is so cheap with ME3 at the moment, cant imagine opting for a sardin box like this

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    1. They will have new planes delivered so new flights will be launched!

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    2. I agree with anon at 9.18. Emirates for example is offering some dirt cheap fares to south east asia from Zagreb at the moment. They had Singapore return fares for just 320 euros a few weeks ago which is crazy. Don't see who would prefer to sit in a packed almost 400 seat A330 instead of, for example B777/A380.

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    3. Last anon, I agree as well. Low cost/long haul doesn't seem very attractive to say the least. This is what they do, pack people like sardines. Even Air Transat. Might be ok for an hour flight, but 7-8 hours? That's a no for me. Additionally...the safety concerns in this case. Air Asia, I think was the flight between Surabaya and Singapore, which went down near Borneo. Jam packed, over the max capacity for A320 if I recall correctly. And a bunch of other regulations ignored.
      I do wish they arrive though for the sake of already mentioned backpackers, students...etc.

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  13. Alen Šćuric PurgerAugust 28, 2017 at 9:19 AM

    Air Asia X was failed in London and Paris from Kuala Lumpur. They had huge plans for flights to Europe, but it was not successful. So I don't see how they can succeed to destinations such as Croatia if they could not survive in London and Paris.

    OK, they again announce planes for European flights, but still to have Croatia in their first wave of European flights is so unrealistic.

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    1. But they are only looking at Eastern Europe so I don't think it's unrealistic having Croatia in that wave.

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    2. The least comfortable planes I've ever flown. But they're dirt cheap. They thrive in places where there are lots of people who simply can't afford Singapore, Cathay or Qantas. I don't think finding success in Croatia is impossible. I know I won't be flying with them again unless they are MUCH cheaper than anyone else.

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    3. What was the service/flight like? Give us some info :)

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    4. You only get what you buy, even on long-haul. I bought luggage + meal in a combo deal, so an FA just brought that over. That was ok. Nothing to write home about.

      The problem was the seat. Tiny. Seat pitch of, I think, 75cm. And they had those fat seats that took up a lot of that as well. I'm somewhat tall with my 6'3" but I still expect to fit in my seat. I had to take out their magazine to be able to squeeze my legs in. The least comfortable flight I have ever been on. HKG - SIN

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    5. I thought people on here told us how Croatia should stay away from lowcost airlines

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    6. Thanks Somni. Yes, that's definitely some tight seating.

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    7. Long haul LCC as a concept has been around for a while now and nobody has managed to make success out of it yet.

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  14. Wouldn't this hurt Emirates? I understand demand is growing, but if say Korean also starts scheduled flights, plus these guys, then that would definitively eat into EK's share.
    PS don't think I'm some sort of hater, I think this is very exciting news.

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    1. I think there would be overcapacity. It's not just EK which is competing for the same passengers. You also have QR and TK.

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  15. Great news for Croatia!

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  16. What are their fares like generally on long haul flights?

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    1. A return fare from Bangkok to Osaka with them next month is 320 euros.

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    2. And KUL-SYD is around 300-350EUR... so I bet we could expect similar prices from DMK to new european destinations, hope it will be ZAG.

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  17. Do you have to pay for everything on them? Like luggage, food?

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    1. Yes but they bundle it up. For example for around 30 USD you get a meal and 20kg of luggage.

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  18. I remember this Air Asia was interested in buying BH Airlines and Jat Airways at one point a long time ago. Even their CEO came.

    Great news for Croatia.

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    1. In the case of Serbia this turned out not to be truth, even Tony Fernandes denied it. Just Mrka's wet dreams.

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  19. I wouldn't get my hopes up.

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  20. The question is whether it is Zagreb or Dubrovnik :D

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    1. Zagreb would be the more sensible choice.

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  21. Really impressive if these start. I wonder if it is the result of Ministry of Tourism.

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  22. Smart move for Croatia to start focusing on Asia and other distant markets. I think this route could work.

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  23. It begins. I'm excited to here about all the new airline that will be coming to Croatia next year. 2017 was huge but 2018 will be even bigger.

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    1. Looking forward to it.

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    2. I'm still waitin' for some confirmed announcements.

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  24. Let's hope it doesn't turn out like Beijing Capital Airlines PEK-ZAG which were supposed to start this June.

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    1. The CEO said they are considering it along with a few other countries. He didn't say that they are flying for sure and requested slots. But it is great that they are even considering it in my opinion.

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  25. I have been 2 time on Air Asia X , once from Syd-KUL-Hkt , RT , flights were full on A 330 both ways , mainly young aussies traveling to east asia on holiday .Few years ago they used low cost termianl at Kul , which was nightmares , cervice was what you pay for $ , I remember we paid approx 1000$ for 4 people to hkt rt from syd, when they announced syd flights . Prices nowdays are simmilar , you might get good deals if u buy in advances . Their target will be only youths and backpackers , now days regardless their price I will not use them . Too tight seats . at the moment they use main terminal at kul , but moved from bkk to dmk.

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    1. Seems quite a few people had a similar experience with them. Interestingly on short hauls they are regularly commended for service. But I assume the main problem with long hauls is the poor seat pitch.

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  26. Anyone know the backstory to Thai carriers being unable to launch new routes? Is this only for certain markets or everywhere?

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    1. Thai airlines were were placed under special measures by ICAO in 2015 due to poor safety though I think it is primarily a political thing since it happened after the coup in Thailand and the US downgraded the country to CAT2. Basically it is up to each country to decide based on the ICAO measures if they want to restrict Thai airlines from launching new routes. In Europe I assume the EU introduced this measure, which is why they have to wait for the ban to be lifted before they start Croatia.

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    2. I think the ME carriers took big % of their passangers. The kangaroo route instead going through Sin , Kul , Bkk has been moved to Dxb, Doh, Auh. Now days they had to cut frequency and downgrade equipment.

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  27. Well that was unexpected.

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  28. What's the point? The market is not that big to start with and the one that already exists is served by LH, QR, EK and TK.

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  29. Croatia has a lot of potential to attract Asian tourists and I am happy more is being done to attract them. The biggest mystery to me is why so little has been done to attract Chinese tourists, especially considering they are the biggest spenders.

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    1. From all the Chinese I know and work with the term "big spender" does not even come close. They are big "savers" and will only spend money when they need to or when they want to show off with brand name luxury brands.
      So If Croatia would start selling Louis Vuitton cevapi or Gucci Burek, that is the only way I can see Chinese standing in line and being "big spenders"

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  30. It's good that there is some talk but this kind of news comes up every few months - HR to USA, HR to China... and none of it becomes a reality in the end.

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    1. Well an airline did announce start of flights from Beijing to Zagreb. They just didn't follow through probably because their parent company decided to launch flights to Belgrade instead.

      For the US, the airport said it is working towards these flights but there was never any concrete announcements.

      As for these flights from Thailand, the airline CEO said they were considering Croatia.

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    2. Didn't Garuda show interest in ZAG as well?

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    3. They were interested in buying Croatia Airlines. Not sure if they wanted to fly to Zagreb.

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    4. Garuda said that if they bought Croatia Airlines they would have fed OU's European network so they planned to start flying to Zagreb.

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    5. So why didn't they buy OU? Seems like they missed out on a deal of a century.

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    6. Could they show some interest now if the government decides to sell OU?

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  31. If they launch ZAG, the airport will become a regional hub.

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    1. Can you share what is funny with my statement?

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    2. One long haul route does not make a regional hub, especially since BEG will have two in just under a month

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    3. hub implies lots of connections, meaning regional destinations and frequencies. Not only one or two long hauls. Hub is a connecting point. That being said, BEG is a bit stronger of course, but all of ex YU is extremely marginal in any wider aspect. Even let's say regional aspect going a bit beyond ex YU.

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    4. ZAG has a smaller capacity and only 1 runway to become a new LCC long haul base. Also, it is tricky to have a continuous flow of passengers.

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  32. I really do hope that something materializes out of this.

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  33. Let's first wait and see if they will ever schedule these flights.

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  34. I understand that people are not big fans of low-cost long-haul but there seems to be a market for them. Look at Scoot, Norwegian, Eurowings and all the new European no frills long haul airlines.

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  35. Hmmmm given how cheap flights are to Thailand I find it difficult to see how these guys will launch this route... especially now when Emirates is seriously dumping its fares to southeast Asia.

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    1. http://m.gulfnews.com/business/aviation/flydubai-losses-widen-to-dh142m-in-first-half-1.2081169

      FlyDubai is burning cash as well. They even fly Bangkok. 40 milion USD loss so far this year on its first 6 months.

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    2. Interestingly the only airlines which seems to be making a mint right now is Qantas and some of the major US airlines. Crazy when you think where they were a few years back and they government sponsored competition they were up against.

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  36. Thailand could work. Cater for passengers going to Croatia during Eurooean summers and Croats going to Thailand during European winter, when it is high season in Thailand.

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  37. ZAG-MEL
    ZAG-SYD
    ZAG-SIN
    DBV-KUL
    DBV-SIN
    SPU-KUL
    SPU-BKK
    ZAD-DPS

    Just ideas of so many potential routes.

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    1. Air Asia is a serious airline and they have probably studied Croatia very carefully. Never underestimate such things please, never.

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    2. Yes...Qantas is doing heavy research and crunching data on some SYD-LHR non stops while ZAG is there all along :) But route of the year award would surely go to ZAD-DPS! :)

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  38. Wishfull thinking. Never is going to materialize.

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    1. You don't know - it all depends on how much the Govt is prepared to subsidise their flying - that's how the LCC model works, even in far away Asia

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  39. Nok Scoot LCC uses to fly Athens-Singapore

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    1. Its just Scoot, NokScoot is Thailandese subsidiary of Scoot and Nok Air. NokScoot has nothing to do with ATH-SIN flights only Scoot has.

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  40. OT:

    DPD - Franco German Cargo and delivery company plans Zagreb airport cargo operations. They should be announcing cargo operations to Zagreb with cargo operations to start sometimes in 2018. DPD distributes approximately 20 tons of postal parcels in Croatia each day.

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    1. Great news! Hope for the old terminal refurbishment as a cargo center.

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    2. Any chance of seeing FedEx in ZAG?

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    3. @AnonymousAugust 28, 2017 at 8:29 PM

      Hopefully soon, the airport management wants to bring in all big players, they're pushing for 30 000 tons of cargo by 2020 and 50-70 000 by 2025.





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  41. Good luck with your low budget guests from Asia....

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  42. They have over 200 aircraft in fleet in Asian market so i belive they are not just a bad Asian airline !

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  43. Noone mentioned the fact that Croatian passports are one of the rare ones (and the only EU one) that still need a visa for Thailand in advance. Even Russia, Mongolia and Turkey can get visas on arrival or have exemptions, but as a Croat, you still have to go to the embassy or consulate, pay 30-50 euros, leave your passport and pick it up in a few days... crazy for a country like Thailand which is so open with their visa policy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Thailand#Visa_exemption_for_normal_passports

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