CSEBA in final talks over Zagreb - China flights

CSEBA hopes to link Croatia with China

The Chinese Southeast Europe Business Association (CSEBA) has confirmed to EX-YU Aviation News it is entering final talks with its business partners for the initial launch of charter flights between Croatia and China. According to earlier plans outlined by the Business Association, charter flights should link Zagreb with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing before scheduled services are launched during the summer of 2015. Within the next few weeks talks will be finalised in Zagreb between CSEBA and its Chinese backers, the Association says, after which it will announce its plans, most likely by the end of the month. The charter flights would cater primarily for Chinese tourists. Far off markets hold huge potential for Croatia's tourism industry as the number of Chinese travellers visiting the country has seen double digit growth over the past few years.

Earlier this summer, the Business Association revealed that charter flights between Croatia and China will operate until June 2015 in cooperation with Chinese carriers, after which CSEBA plans to launch its own airline and run scheduled flights between Croatia, China and Serbia, as well as countries in Central Asia such as Kazakhstan. It added, “CSEBA and its partners plan to establish an airline with regular flights between China and countries in the region, as well as regional flights in South East Europe at low cost prices”. However, Xu Qiang, Director General of the Chongqing Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Commission has said, “Setting up an airline demands big finances. CSEBA and its partners should link up with other Chinese companies”.

Most passengers travelling from Zagreb to the Far East do so with Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways, transiting through their respective hubs. The last time a city in the former Yugoslavia offered scheduled services to China was in 2000 when JAT Yugoslav Airlines operated flights from Belgrade to Beijing. Furthermore, CSEBA recently held a series of meetings with key Kazakh state company representatives and also met with SCAT Airlines officials to discuss the potential launch of regular flights between Zagreb and Astana. This is despite the fact that SCAT Airlines is currently banned from operating in European airspace, as is the case with all other airlines certified by authorities with responsibility for regulatory oversight in Kazakhstan, with the exception to flag carrier Air Astana.


  1. Anonymous09:30

    There is certainly a market. I hope this happens but like with all things in this part of the world, I'm not holding my breath when grand announcements are made.

  2. Anonymous09:48

    Charter flights could happen, there are so many Chinese tourists in Croatia, especially in Zagreb, Korean Air does the same for Korean tourists, but I don't think there will be regular flights!

  3. Anonymous10:06

    this region needs long haul flights charter flights are a good start

  4. Interesting about Croatia and its tourism market is that there are significant number of tourists from the far east, so called "exotic" countries (India, China, New Zealand, Korea, Japan). Those numbers are in no way comparable to those of the neighboring EU countries (Slovenia, Austria, Germany), but are nonetheless significant, especially given the relative unavailibility of flights... In 2013, there were something like 100.000 chinese tourists, around 80.000 indian, 180.000 japanese, and over 200.000 korean (this year, there'll be more than 300.000). This applies to the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (from US, close to 300.000 tourists). All of these are developed markets with solid number of citizens traveling abroad.

    So, yes charter flights from each one of these countries would make sense and as such are expected to be happening within several years.

    As for the scheduled direct flights, I only see Toronto, NYC and Chicago work for Zagreb - mostly due to diaspora and tourism potential... however, not earlier than 2017 when the new terminal will be fully operational.

    By that time, the world will see several changes in the market...changes which favor smaller non-hub airports that hold a certain level of market potential...
    Such change will come as a result of A320 neos, 787 dreamliners etc. Companies with those in the fleet will be able to carry-out seasonal and direct flights connecting compatible smaller airports...

    It's one of the 2 main theories concerning the future market trends: Mega large hubs (A380s, A380-900 or A380-1000), VS. dispersion of global traffic (direct connections of smaller airports with appropriate smaller aircraft)...

    We shall see... in any case, I am sensing a good 2015 for ZAG ...

    1. Good post Peter,

      The dispersion of traffic was actually a strategy which not long ago Qantas very much considered under a previous CEO. At this time Qantas had 80 787's on firm order and another 80 options which would have been used for this and now they operate a total of 7 with 4 to come and all flown under the Jet Star brand. At this time (pre GFC) they were considering relaunching Athens, Paris and Rome with the 787's and also considering other European destinations along with expanding the America's and Asia network.

      Well that's all history now and they have obviously abandoned that idea and have gone for the mega hub strategy under the current CEO.

      Crazy when you think that they could have had a fleet of 160 787's and now they just operate a potential 11 and all under the Jet Star brand :(.

  5. let's not forget the latest news...in 2016 Croatia will host USTOA 's (United States Tour Operator Association) annual business event "Out of Country" ...

  6. Anonymous11:28

    What happened to rumors that Air Serbia might start flights to China? I think they codeshare on EY flights to there now.

    1. Anonymous18:42

      Stuff that people write in the comments section here should not always be taken seriously. Air Serbia doesn't plan on flying to Beijing. They do c/s with Etihad and that's enough for the time being. Their aim is strengthen their regional network and position themselves in the region and then they will consider long haul flights but to USA and Canada only.

  7. Anonymous12:06

    Da lete sa cime?

  8. Anonymous18:36

    Purger, do you think these flights from China are possible? How about yesterday's topic about selling OU?

    1. Purger00:45

      Doesn't look serious to me. CSEBA has big influence to politicians in region, it is supported by Chinese Embassy, but it is rather new association (they open office in Zagreb this year), it is no clear what is CSEBA, who found it, why Croat is president not Chinese... Don’t know, don’t have enough information. But I thing that only chance to open regular route has some of Chinese companies. One from Croatia (CSEBA) can open one or two charter flights per week, and with that they cannot work profitable. Especially not with their own plane who will sit on platform 4 days per week.

    2. Purger, some months ago you posted here to inform us that Kresimir Kucko is leaving OU because of personal reasons. But we heard nothing further.....my question is when is he leaving??

  9. Anonymous18:37

    I really hope this happens. I also think there is a market for BEG-PEK flights. Lots of passengers from east Asia are coming with Etihad at the moment. Also very interesting, during the summer there were many Korean groups flying EY to BEG and then onward to DBV.

  10. Anonymous18:38

    Wasn't CSEBA planning on flying between Zagreb and Belgrade. I remember reading that?

    1. Anonymous18:43

      Yes they were or at least they said so

  11. Nikola18:40

    well lets wait a few weeks and see what happens. Regular charters are a good first step until scheduled flights begin

  12. Anonymous19:04

    Ja mislim da bi se Air Astani vise isplatilo da leti u pocetku sa B752 ako ima toliki domet, da nije malo velik 767-300ER za tu liniju.=D


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