Zagreb Airport potential
Europe and North America

Zagreb Airport is the second largest airport in terms of passenger numbers out of all the airports in the EX-YU. The most lucrative destinations that could be served from Croatia’s capital are those found inside the European Union while transatlantic flights could be profitable and sustainable through charter flights or seasonal summer flights. A total of 6 profitable destinations could be added to the current network from Zagreb.

Madrid is not served directly from Zagreb. In 2007, 10.785 passengers travelled from the Spanish capita; to Zagreb, which was an increase of 20% on the previous year. Madrid accounts for 38% of the total market to Spain from Zagreb. In 2007, 153.860 Spaniards visited Croatia, an increase of 35% compared to the previous year while 2008 data is even more promising. Warsaw in Poland is currently only indirectly served from Zagreb. In 2007, 7.965 passengers travelled from Warsaw to Zagreb, an increase of 15% from the previous year. Warsaw accounts for 67% of the total market from Zagreb to Poland. Polish visitors from Croatia increased 17% in 2007 to 323.000. In 2008 these numbers are even more impressive as by November this tear already 357.230 passengers from Poland have visited Croatia. Milan is also only indirectly served from Zagreb. In 2007, 11.524 passengers travelled from Milan to Zagreb, an increase of 20% compared to 2007. Milan accounts for 28 % of the total market from Zagreb to Italy. Italian visitors from Italy to Croatia exceeded 1 million in 2007 and a small increase is expected in 2008. Bucharest is another underserved destination from Zagreb. In 2007, 8.209 passengers travelled from Bucharest to Zagreb, an increase of 22% compared to the previous year. Bucharest accounts for 90% of the total market from Zagreb to Romania. Visitors to Croatia from Romania increased 40% in 2007 to 47.057.

As for transatlantic services New York and Toronto would, for now, be most profitable if operated on a charter or seasonal basis. Toronto has been served only during the summer period. In 2007 18.263 passengers travelled from Toronto to Zagreb. Passenger traffic to Canada grew by 7% in 2007 compared to 2006. In addition, Skyservice resumed their summer service to Zagreb from Toronto. Visitors from Canada totalled 36.474, an increase of 26% on the previous year. As for New York in 2007, 24.657 passengers travelled to Zagreb from the Big Apple, an increase of 7.7% on the previous year. New York accounts for 19.2% of the total market to the USA from Zagreb. Visitors from the USA totalled 181.381, an increase of 18% when compared with visitors in 2006. The total number of visitors from the USA and Canada to Croatia totalled 218.000 in 2007.

According to the airport’s management it would support any new route to the airport with a 5-year incentive scheme to reduce airline start-up costs. Based on the individual merits of the proposed route growth, the airport may look to offer additional backing through marketing support. In addition the airport has a host of other marketing initiatives - consumer magazine, e-mail database, website banners and other which would be used to promote any new service.

Zagreb Airport is currently served by 15 scheduled airlines and 2 low cost airlines. 1.992.455 passengers used the airport in 2007.


  1. Anonymous04:23

    For the last few years, it could almost have seemed that the problem with Zagreb Airport has been its inability to attract attention to itself (therefore resulting in more flights) - whether it has been lack of capacity (only now are we seeing growth of Croatia Airlines etc.), general unknowns of the region (though obviously not to readers of this forum!) or a dilapidated, tired old terminal building...

    Zagreb undoubtedly has the most promise of all the ex-YU cities in terms of flights and opportunity, though for many years just hasn't been able to capitalise on this. Why is this so?

    Some points on the European cities have provoked further thoughts:

    1. Madrid - is this business or leisure travel? Both countries share common identities, including their appeal as holiday destinations. If Croatia took a leaf out of Spain's book in terms of tourism, travel and infrastructure the country would be in a much better shape. Perhaps co-ordination needs to be more than just flights operating between the capitals...

    2. Warsaw - long overdue. I recall reading somewhere that LOT was supposed to start this route back in 2006(?) but obviously fell through. Now with Croatia edging closer and closer to EU membership, the time is surely getting close to connect the city with as many of the main EU capitals as possible.

    3. Milan - MXP showed its potential as a wonderful hub (before most of the flights were pulled from it by AZ) for both intra- and inter-continental flights. 12,000 passengers travelling indirectly per year already shows that a daily service using a 70-seat plane should work.

    The other untapped market to ensure 'bums on seats' must be tapping into another large carrier at MXP. An example: the biggest challenge for many ex-YU travelling from Oceania (Aust/NZ) is the inability to access close-by European aviation hubs... surely whoever takes up the MXP-ZAG route should look to time flights with long-haul airlines into MXP (eg EK, EY, CA, JL, SQ), or possibly codeshare with one guaranteeing x% of the flight 'already sold' as none of these airlines are likely to fly into Zagreb directly from their Mid East/Asian hub in the next 5 years...

    With flights from North America, it must be an American-based airline operating the flights (could a route survive 2-weekly?) as Croatia's FAA rating is still at Stage 2... Must it be JFK (as stated on therouteshop) for the flights, or could it work out of another nearby airport? Or alternatively, could the route be successful if it operated in a triangle with another nearby city (eg. TK operating some services as triangle IST-ZAG-LJU)?

    The unmentioned potential of Zagreb must surely be the possibility to make it THE hub for flights in/around the Balkan peninsula... Croatia Airlines purchasing 6 new short-haul must go part of the way for this, but connectivity to other cities (Athens, Sofia, Novi Sad, Beograd(?) [yes - a thought-provoking one and politically-sensitive] over the next 24 months is pivotal. This also depends on what happens with JAT and its restructuring.

    LJU, SKP and SJJ wont and can't provide such great opportunities, and neither can SPU or DBV in Croatia itself. Let's see what the future holds...


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