Thursday, March 15, 2018

Croatia Airlines to end Pristina operations


Croatia Airlines will pull out of the Kosovo market this year by terminating its seasonal flights between Zagreb and Pristina. It marks an end to its gradual reduction of operations on the route. The Croatian carrier has discontinued ticket sales for the service. It maintained year-round operations between Zagreb and Pristina until 2016, after which services were downgraded to seasonal summer flights. Last year, the airline ran only two weekly rotations between the two cities from July 11 until September 5 with its seventy-seat Bombardier Dash 8 turboprop aircraft. This is despite previous plans to open a base in Pristina in 2017, which never materialised.

The Croatian carrier commenced operations to Pristina back in 2008, with three weekly services. The route was primarily targeted at transfer passengers at a time when there were limited options for travel from Pristina. At one point, it operated up to seven weekly flights between the two cities. However, with the arrival of new and low cost carriers in Pristina, as well as an increasing number of travellers from Kosovo using Skopje Airport due to its generally cheaper air fares, Croatia Airlines became less competitive. In 2017, the carrier handled just 4.820 passengers on its flights to and from Pristina, well down from the 19.000 travellers it carried in 2009, which marked its best performing year on the route. On occasion, the carrier has also operated charters from the Kosovan city to Germany. Adria Airways now becomes the only airline from the former Yugoslavia to maintain flights to the city.

Pristina is the second seasonal service to be suspended by Croatia Airlines this year. As previously reported, the carrier will also terminate summer operations between Rijeka and London. On the other hand, it will launch three new seasonal routes this summer and one year-round destination for a third consecutive year. These include flights from Zagreb to Dublin and Mostar, Dubrovnik to Munich, as well as from Split to Copenhagen. Furthermore, it will boost frequencies on several routes out of the Croatian capital. "This season, Croatia Airlines will operate scheduled flights to 39 destinations in 23 European countries, with the capital Zagreb connected with five Croatian airports", the airline said in a statement.

121 comments:

  1. Would someone be so kind to calculate their average load factor on this route last year based on the figures? So total of 17 return flights, 4,820 passengers and Dash 8 equipment with 70 seats.

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    1. Not sure that calculation would work because OU had some charters from Pristina to Germany last year. Don't know if those are factored into those passenger numbers.

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    2. Ah I see. Thank you anyway.

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    3. The figure definitely includes charters flights because capacity on ZAG-PRN-ZAG was only 2380.

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    4. How many charters did they operate? Which routes?

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    5. Winter 2017 they flew from Pristina to Basel, Dusseldorf, Hanover and Stuttgart

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    6. With those flights they probably made more money that a full year of ZAG-PRN-ZAG ops.

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    7. It's a smart idea that they lease inoperative planes during winter. They should do more of it.

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  2. Well now we know where they got the plane for Mostar from.

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  3. Same story as with Air Serbia's Belgrade-Ohrid route.

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    1. imagine OU takes over this route :D

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    2. It would be nice if OU started ZAG-OHD actually.

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  4. I'm not surprised. It was a guessing game each season to see whether they will keep PRN or cut it.

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  5. It's peculiar that in this day and age scheduled services still don't stand much chance in PRN against the plethora of 'tour agency' charters. 'Family business' still rules the day apparently.

    For anyone doubting this, just check the ratio of scheduled and charter traffic to PRN and the seasonality of both.

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    1. I don't get it. Kosova Dispora is rich but stupid for buying VERY EXPENSIVE tickets from stingy tour operators. Most of them are mafia owned. I hope Wizz Air will base an aircraft in Prishtina and blow all these tour operators away.

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    2. You can add 2 and 2 together and see why the 'government' controlled airport taxes stay at comparatively high levels, keeping matters at status quo and keeping Wizz Air at bay.

      Kako mi to kazemo dole, sve je to povezano kao creva..

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  6. If Serbia and Kosovo* managed to get an agreement, would Albanians fly with Air Serbia, or would they avoid it for the simple reason because it is a Serbian airline?

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    1. If the airfare was acceptable the majority would fly it.

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    2. Flights to Kosovo* could be handled by Aviolet planes, for example, where the national prefix is not named. Or wet-leased planes, on behalf of JU.

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    3. If you are in fear of flying somewhere just because of what's painted on your aircraft, then it's better not to fly there at all.

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    4. Flights can not start without an agreement in Brussels. No plane can lift off from Belgrade and land in Pristina, no matter who operates it.

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    5. They will start sooner or later when political deal is reached and I doubt there will be any problem.

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    6. Everyone should move on and leave the past behind. Business is business.

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    7. Isn't there a number of passengers from Kosovo already using AS?

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    8. It's a difficult proposition. As long as Serbia has a hard stance against Kosovo, forget it.

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    9. The PRN airport would welcome AS but first it has to come to a legal binding agreement between Kosovo and Serbia to full normalization of relations

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  7. A good opportunity for JP.

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    1. JP aready flies double daily to Priština. Seems like OU was not able to compete them as they offer better connections via LJU.

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    2. It helps that Adria has a base in PRN and is well known on the market.

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  8. I guess this is good news for SKP. Not surprising OU is adding frequencies to Skopje.

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  9. ZAG-PRN was good as dead for years. What's the point of maintaining flights just 2x per week, especially a regional route.

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    1. It was maintained for political reasons.

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    2. sorry but that is nonsence

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    3. If it was political they would not have kept it for almost 10 years.

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  10. So Croatia Airlines can't sustain flights to neither Podgorica or Pristina.

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    1. Their ops in ex-Yu countries is almost non existent now. The only one they have left is seasonal Split-Belgrade.

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    2. So one that looses out here in Zagreb Airport. If they want to become a serious hub in this part of the world, their regional connectivity has to be good.

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    3. Huh? Mostar, Sarajevo, Skopje

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  11. Shame. I have flown this route on business several time and the plane was almost always full, especially in June and July. I hope they resume it one day along with Tirana.

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    1. What was the passenger structure if you know?

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    2. Mostly transfers.

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    3. Goes to show that full planes does not equal profit on the route. Especially if most were transfers on the route.

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  12. With the timing of those flights I'm not surprised.

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    1. The times were fixed for transfer passengers with late departure from Zagreb and early morning arrival.

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    2. Was this the case last year too when they were flying seasonally?

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    3. Yes.

      Departure from Zagreb 22.05
      Arrival in Pristina 23.40

      Departure from Pristina: 05.45
      Arrival in Zagreb: 07.20

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  13. It's interesting how Adria can manage to get transfer passengers from balkans to rest of Europe, but OU failed to do that. Probably also new destinations from LJU will be filled with quite some passengers from balkans.

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    1. Well one of the reasons OU failed on this route was probably because Adria was strong on LJU line and managed to take a lot of transfer passengers. JP has a good reputation in Kosovo.

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    2. OU does not have proper waves unlike JP, they are limiting themselves

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    3. Isn't there a morning and afternoon wave at ZAG?

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    4. yes and no, read Purgers article on tango6 about it

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    5. The waves are very sparse should I say. Go to ZAG airport website and look at this mornings departures.

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    6. I wrote this below but didn't see there was a related discussion.

      Croatia Airlines offered very good connections to some key routes.

      Flights from Pristina that had good connections via Zagreb with Croatia Airlines in 2017 were Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Vienna and Zurich.

      All of these were with a short connecting time.

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    7. @last anon
      So very strange the route did not work with so many transfers!

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  14. The article reminded me of Kucko's plans to open bases across Balkans. What the hell happened to that?

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    1. The CEO of Gulf Air :D

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    2. "What the hell happened to that?"

      It obviously never happened. They realized they neither had the fleet or money to do it.

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    3. Thank god for that. Much better to focus on Zagreb than trying to be something your not with multiple foreign bases. It never works. Ask Adria.

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    4. I agree with you but I think they should have went ahead and opened a base in Sarajevo. They could have based a Q400 there. It would be a money maker. Sarajevo is so badly underserved and they would surely let OU fly from SJJ to western Europe. It would also be a good income alternative for OU during winter months.

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    5. Sarajevo would work but they would have an issue with fleet in summer because they need every plane they can get. They could have opened bases only if they got new 100 seat planes.

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    6. Kucko at one point had an idea for OU to buy YM. LOL. Don't take what that guy says seriously.

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    7. Buying YM would be a great move for OU! Shame that did not materialize.

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  15. They should start flights to Tirana! I don't know why they are avoiding this market. They could get transfers and point to point passengers. Tirana has worked really well for Adria and Air Serbia which is proven by how many weekly flights they have. ZAG-TIA with dash a few times per week would work.

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    1. Has Croatia Airlines ever flown to Tirana?

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    2. Yes but long time ago.

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    3. They should try it again. I agree with anonymous at 9.33. There is a lot of potential.

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    4. When Kucko had the Balkan base idea, Tirana was one of them, even though they were not flying there (and still aren't).

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  16. Short sighted decision in my opinion. They should have just kept it seasonal for a month or two this year. By next summer visas for Kosovo citizens will probably be lifted and there will be a big increase in travel without doubt. It's much more difficult to leave a market and then try to re enter it later.

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  17. Without doubt one of the most despised routes by OU crew. Odd hours and the company found a really bad hotel where it put crew in over night.

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    1. Where to find good hotel in Pristina? Read in NYT how they arbitrated Grand Hotel. Tirana is more decent city.

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    2. Last time I was there, in early 2008, I stayed in a 5 star Hotel Prishtina and it was 13 degrees in the room...

      Not to mention that US Military was my host.

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  18. Interesting how they can make Skopje a success but they struggle in Priština.

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    1. because there is a healthy O&D market HR-MK

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  19. If a route isn't turning a profit cut it! That goes for all airlines.

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    1. But you should try to make the route make money. I don't think OU particularly tried here.

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    2. +1 Anon 10:11. Overall, route profitability is very complex thing as route itself can lose money yet have positive effect on overall business. Maybe, theoretically, even if ZAG PRN lost money, maybe it could have made something beyond ZAG more succesfull. Just a theory, as I of course dont have any single data to make any reasonable conclusion.

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  20. In my opinion Rijeka-Heathrow is a bigger loss than Zagreb-Pristina.

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    1. Not really since you can still fly ZAG-LHR and Rijeka is 130km from Zagreb.

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    2. By that logic Zagreb-Pristina is not a big loss either since Ljubljana is 140km from Zagreb so you can catch a plane to Pristina there.

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    3. Neither of them are big losses.

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    4. It's a big loss for Rijeka actually. No one has taken OU's place on this route

      In an article here there were some stats. 29,4% of passengers were P2P from/to Rijeka, 26,5 transferring through Rijeka (not sure to where exactly) and 33,4% were transferring from RJK through LHR to other destinations.

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    5. Oh and the link
      http://www.exyuaviation.com/2017/01/british-monarch-look-to-gain-from.html

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    6. I am so glad they stopped flying to LHR. JP did the same and there was no drama.

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  21. There is only so much demand from diaspora and JP and other low-costs are taking care of that.

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  22. I don't think this is a big deal BUT you have to wonder how Croatia Airlines can't sustain some straight forward routes which seem to work for other airlines.

    The bigger mystery is Podgorica. They cut this route a few years ago. Air Serbia and Adria are both doing well there. We see airlines like LOT flying 6x per week to Podgorica, Aegean operating flights and now even Lufthansa plans to start TGD flights. So I just wonder how OU is the only smart airline not to see any potential there, not even seasonal.

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    1. I hope they restart TGD down the line. Or Montenegro Airlines start the route, but Croatia Airlines has more chance of success.

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    2. Podgorica-Belgrade is a sizeable market and was working well even before JU was rebranded in AS. There were however always some transfer passengers on the route.

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  23. Surprised about this. They should have kept and used some of PRN's new incentives which are quite generous.

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    1. They couldn't use any incentives since they were not a new airline operating to Pristina and neither were they planning to increase frequency or introduce bigger equipment.

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  24. They have been struggling to make ends meet in PRN for years.

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    1. How do people know this. Have you all seen their financial results for this route??!!

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    2. Are you serious? You don't dinf it indicative that they have been decreasing Pristina for the past 5 years to just 2-3 flights per week. Or you think they did this because they were doing so well on this route.

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    3. @anon 11:30
      Stop asking people whether they have seen documents/papers/reports. This is a forum for lay people/enthusiasts using common sense to reach conclusions. If this was a money maker they would not cut it.

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  25. Flights from Pristina that had good connections via Zagreb with Croatia Airlines in 2017 were Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Vienna and Zurich.

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    1. They had a good offer of destinations. The problem is they were expensive and more and more of those cities now have nonstop flights from Pristina.

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  26. People have to realize also that one of the main passengers on flights from Pristina to Zagreb were transfer passengers to the UK (London). London Heathrow which is not served from Pristina was one of the most traveled to destinations from Pristina via other European airports.

    Croatia Airlines this year is ending all morning flights to LHR so their Pristina flights loose the ideal connection. So loosing around 10 passengers per flight from Pristina (who went to London) no longer made it viable to keep.

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    1. It makes you wonder what other routes could be affected by this suspension.

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    2. Interesting point! That was 1/7 of the plane.

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  27. It's like the article says - they were becoming less competitive with new airlines flying to Pristina and I'm sure Skopje's rise in the last few years had a big impact.

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    1. True, but don't forget that PRN will be receiving 8 new destinations vs. 4 in SKP. So the competition is still there.
      On the other hand, smaller INI is actively looking to grow too.

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    2. Not only is INI looking to grow but it is actually growing. This year it should be at 50% of SKP's traffic before Wizz Air's arrival.

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  28. We have to all respect OU decision, after all this is one of the few remaining, true legacy carriers in the whole region. PRN might be stopped but there is currently not 1 sole ex-Yu carrier with direct flights to Ireland.
    I think OMO and DUB will fit nicely.

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    1. "This is one of the few remaining, true legacy carriers in the whole region"

      Not for long unfortunately. Hybrid model will be implemented this year at Croatia Airlines too.
      http://www.exyuaviation.com/2018/03/croatia-airlines-to-focus-on.html

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    2. One of few? Last time I checked there were 4 airlines in total. :)

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  29. No major loss for PRN.

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    1. Loosing a legacy airline at any airport is a loss in my opinion.

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  30. Did JAT fly direct flights from Pristina to other cities outside of Yugoslavia?

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    1. Düsseldorf in 1996

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    2. Zurich in the 90s too. It was packed.

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  31. Are there destinations unserved/badly served from BEG that are well served from ZAG, so that it makes logic OU commencing flights to BEG?

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  32. Dublin
    Brussels
    Oslo
    Helsinki
    Lisabon
    Mostar
    Zadar
    Pula
    + Split in winter
    + Dubrovnik in winter

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    1. Well, Oslo, Dublin, Helsinki, even Split could make it interesting for transfer passengers from BEG. And if they code-shared with Air Canada Rouge to Toronto, even more. With connecting flights to BEG and INI, the line to Toronto might not remain seasonal, but year round with reduced frequency.

      Hence, in my opinion OU should send Q400 daily to BEG and 4 times per week to INI.

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  33. Pa važnije je letit u Mostar. Šteta što Livno nema aerodrom

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