Zagreb Airport bounces back

New airlines and more flights from Zagreb this winter

After a slow start to the year, which saw its passenger numbers tumble, Croatia’s busiest airport is starting to recover with growth of over 10% in August alone and the arrival of several new airlines this coming winter season. Last month proved to be Zagreb’s busiest on record. In January, the airport’s French-led management issued an ultimatum to its busiest customer, Croatia Airlines, giving it six months to get its business in order otherwise it would start seeking out new airlines. The airport’s passenger decline earlier in the year is in large part due to Croatia Airlines’ network reductions, as the carrier continues to restructure its operations. Earlier this year the airport said it understood Croatian Airlines’ delicate situation with its pending privatisation process. However, the airport aims to record passenger growth of 8% this year, and, in order to do so, will have to attract new customers.

The airport has delivered on its promise with the arrival of KLM, which resumed flights between Amsterdam and Zagreb in May following a 22-year hiatus. Furthermore, Turkish Airlines doubled its services from Istanbul while Germanwings operated new seasonal flights from Hamburg. Charter operations also saw an improvement during the summer with Air Europa and Air Nostrum introducing services from both Zaragoza and Valencia, respectively. In addition, Arkia Israel Airlines, Tunisair and Onur Air all boosted their flights compared to previous years. Korean Air ran six charter flights from Seoul to Zagreb during the summer with its Boeing 747-400, while a further four flights will be performed this September with a Boeing 777-200.

The airport is expected to see further growth this coming winter season with Eurolot to launch flights from Warsaw this October while low cost Flydubai will connect the United Arab Emirates’ largest city and the Croatian capital for the first time this December. Furthermore, Qatar Airways will launch three weekly nonstop flights from Doha to Zagreb next month, while the remaining four flights will continue to operate via Budapest. Air France is also set to significantly boost capacity on its Paris service this winter with the introduction of a second daily flight. As a result, one of its daily services will be operated by its subsidiary HOP!, while the other by Air France itself. Earlier this year, Alitalia announced its intention to launch flights from Rome to the Croatian capital but gave no firm dates. On the other hand, ČSA Czech Airlines and Etihad Regional cancelled plans to fly to the city this year. Furthermore, 2014 will mark easyJet’s departure from Zagreb with the budget airline suspending its flights from London Gatwick. The airline has been progressively downsizing its operations in Zagreb over the past few years. Meanwhile, away from the tarmac, construction of Zagreb Airport’s new terminal is progressing with the multi million euro project scheduled for completion in late 2016.


  1. Anonymous09:19

    Considering the prices that Croatia Airlines has on its flights to Rome and Zurich, I'm surprised that Alitalia and Etihad Regional didn't use the chance to make some money! Hope more carriers are to come in 2015 with Croatia Airlines finally recovering!

  2. Anonymous09:26

    I just don't understand why did Zagreb need foreigners to bring them in all these airlines? Why couldn't they do it themselves? It's not as if the market for all these airlines suddenly appear.

    1. I believe that a top motive of croatian government was to bring in a serious operator whose credibility would in long run help run the airport, and thus attract more and better business...besides the fact that croatian government didn't have 300 + mil euros for the project.

      ZAG's "old" management (2009-13) was clearly too busy working and preparing for the concession and hence wasn't focused enough on bringing the new airlines. In the winter 2012/13 I have heard that FlyDubai, KLM and SAS were supposed to start the operations in that sense it could be that this whole process has been simply delayed. I would not be surprised if the old management had started talking to these "new" airlines who then decided to wait with starting new flights in order to see what will happen with ZAG management... and once it was all done, they finalised their plans and opened up new routes...

      This is just my thinking/speculation

    2. Olen from SKP09:57

      But if there is a market out there, why should any airline postpone flights? I could only see it if they are given subventions which is not the case here.

      To me, it looks more like government protectionism.
      Now, the primary issue will be to see how Croatia Airlines will respond to all this. They need to introduce revolutionary changes into their business model because merely introducing cost-cutting measures will not do it.

      What we are witnessing today in Zagreb is what we saw in Belgrade back in 2009/2010. That year 10 new airlines launched flights to Belgrade (Cimber-Sterling, airBaltic, Tarom, Malév...). What did Jat do? They dumped their fares while their losses mounted.
      In my opinion, the worst competitor is EuroLot because it will provide a new route for Croats to both Scandinavia and Russia. Two key markets for Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa. No wonder they are entering with daily flights.

      All these additions only go to show how foreign carriers are unafraid of Croatia Airlines. Their management and the Croatian government should do something about it otherwise they will be closing shop soon.

    3. Anonymous10:23

      Croatina government will try to sell Croatia Airlines this autumn? I see another failing attempt! Too bad for Croatia Airlines, Croatia as a country has potential, including diaspora from USA and Australia, tourists as well! For example, Scandinavian countries are underserved, OU flies to Copenhagen only, no flights to Moscow...

    4. Olen from SKP10:31

      They can sell its as much as they want when the main problem is the lack of interested parties to buy it.
      Look at Macedonia. We gained so much since MAT's demise! Maybe Croatia needs the same scenario to get rid of the burden from the past.

      I think the only really underserved market is Sweden. The US/Canada is covered by Lufthansa, British Airways and Austrian Airlines.
      Australia, Asia and Africa are covered by Turkish Airlines, Qatar and soon flydubai/Emirates.
      Aeroflot flies to Zagreb and they offer fantastic connections to all of the CIS. I hope they launch SKP flights soon too!

      For a small market such as Zagreb that's a nice list of airlines!

  3. Anonymous09:30

    Does Air Serbia have plans to start Belgrade-Zagreb route?

    1. Anonymous09:34

      Maybe they do, but Croatian government won't allow them to do that I'm sure.

    2. Olen from SKP10:00

      Croatia is in the EU now. Shouldn't the Open Skies be in force by now?

    3. I think that Open Skies agreement applies

  4. I hope so too... Some of the next (logical) steps would be:

    - return of Alitalia's yearlong direct service to Rome (the alternative is Vueling whose operations will hopefully extend to at least 4 full months)

    - return of SAS on yearly service to Copenhagen and/or Stockholm (perhaps this one could be done seasonally).
    An alternative could be Norwegian which could expand its current service to Copenhagen and introduce seasonal service to Stockholm.

    - return of ČSA on a year long service to Prague (this was one of the longest uninterrupted routes, dating from 60s until 2012 non-stop, even during the 90s war)... Perhaps ČSA is simply waiting for better times as ZAG is currently not one of their priorities

    - Iberia and Vueling's services to Madrid and Barcelona could see an increase in number of frequencies and in a total of season length (especially Madrid)

    - FlyDubai and Qatar may be likely to increase their frequencies gradually, as well as Turkish Airlines which is expected to add a thrid daily flight in some short-medium term time...

    - at least 1 LCC on 2 or 3 routes that would be popular in the season, with 2 or 3 weekly frequencies (Milan, Dublin, Oslo...)

    This is all for now in short - term that I believe covers all currently underserved destinations where there's demand (2014-16)...

    - Croatia Airlines, if it all goes well could cover some of these routes and may focus on increasing its regional presence with their DH-8s and/or new Embraers (if they ever get them) in Pristina, Skopje and Sarajevo... as well as Athens, Sofia etc.

    For all the other routes, well maybe and hopefully ZAG will see them in 2017 when the new terminal opens...

    1. Anonymous16:21

      Thanks for that. Interesting list :) Hope we see them all

  5. by "I hope so too" I meant that I am hoping more carriers will arrive. It has nothing to do with cro govn't and Beg flights...
    Heck, I think there's space for both CA and Air Serbia to each operate 1 daily with DSH-8 and ATR-72...
    Within 2 yeras, this could upgrade to a larger aircraft... with no problem.

    1. Olen from SKP10:11

      If flights between Belgrade and Zagreb are re-established then I see it only thanks to Air Serbia.
      Before I get attacked let me explain why.
      First of all, the distance between the two cities is not that large and this is the primary competitor to any airline that wishes to fly on this route.
      In order to be least bit competitive, the airline has to offer at least daily flights at a relatively cheap fare. Now, this means that if Croatia Airlines was to fly the route on a daily basis, their fares should be that cheap that they would be barely making any money on it.
      On the other hand, Air Serbia launches these flights with its Atr-72 (which is far more economical on such sectors than the Q400) then they could rely on transfer passengers to fill its seats.

      In conclusion, Air Serbia could immediately start with double daily flights while Croatia Airlines could barely pull off a daily rotation. Another alternative is for these two airlines to sign a code-share/interline agreement and to cooperate on this route- something that seems unlikely.

      Just look at the preliminary winter plans Air Serbia had for its regional network. Budapest and Ljubljana were both scheduled to go 10 weekly. So why not Zagreb?
      Heck. If Air Serbia can pull off a double daily rotation to Skopje then there is no reason why they couldn't do the same in Zagreb.

    2. Anonymous16:38

      Couldnt say it better than Olen !
      As far as i know no journalist ever tried to ask or investigate this...
      Would be nice to interview the aviation officials in Croatia about that topic.

      The former director of Zagreb who is now in Brac island even stated he would embrace JU.

      Maybe its only blocked by some politicians but not the managers ?!

    3. Olen from SKP17:23

      Actually, I would be surprised if it were the politicians blocking it. In Zagreb you've got the Socialist government which is everything but nationalistic (read anti-Serbian). In Belgrade you've got Vucic and his gang who are trying to please the European Union in any way possible which includes good relations with Serbia's neighbours. If anything, the political climate has never been better.

      What I think is the real problem here is that Air Serbia has a lack of aircraft at its disposal. Just look how often they've sent Aviolet to Split or how the Boeing is the default aircraft to Montenegro. They even had to use Etihad Regional for flights to Banja Luka so as to be able to launch Pula flights.
      On the other hand, Belgrade desperately needs more bus gates in order to avoid using air-bridges for Atr operated flights. I guess Zagreb was not such a priority because a daily flight might not be commercially viable and relying purely on the transfer passengers might not have been such a good business decision.
      Ljubljana has always had quite a lot of point to point passengers while Budapest, despite being as far as Zagreb, is a relatively high-yielding market which has lost almost all connections with the Balkans since Malév went belly up. That's why it's not surprising that they were given priority over Zagreb. I am sure ZAG will eventually be launched but it's far from being a priority for the airline.

      If I were OU I would offer cooperation to Air Serbia and schedule flights to BEG so as to enable connections to their regional network- or heck, why not even schedule overnight flights. They could arrive to Belgrade after 22.00 and offer connections to the night bank of departures and then return the following morning at around 06.00.
      In such a way you could not only offer connections beyond Zagreb, but you could also rely on Air Serbia's feed from its night Balkan flights plus destinations such as Larnaca, Tel Aviv, Beirut or Abu Dhabi. Croatia Airlines can do this because their European flights leave quite late and come back quite early. Most Air Serbia flights leave around midnight which is perfect.

      Then again, is there really that much will in Croatia Airlines to pull off such a move which would result in them admitting that Belgrade and Air Serbia are the dominant players? Hmm..

    4. Anonymous17:33

      +1 for Olen

    5. Anonymous17:45

      "Is there that much will in Croatia Airlines"? First you write about cooperation, then it all ends in admitting, dominant players,... Croatia Airlines is in process of restructuring, they don't care about Air Serbia at the moment, there are other routes that they desperately need to cover, Scandinavia, Middle East, Moscow before opening a route to Belgrade. Besides, there are two sides, so it's not only OU's fault.

    6. Anonymous17:51

      Why should they cooperate with AS when they have their code-share to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines?

    7. Olen from SKP17:58

      '"Is there that much will in Croatia Airlines"? First you write about cooperation, then it all ends in admitting, dominant players,..'

      Are you saying that I am wrong when I say that both Belgrade and Air Serbia are dominant players in the region when compared to Zagreb and Croatia Airlines? Please, feel free to correct me.

      So do you really believe that all of a sudden they will be pushed to expand into these markets? I think that ship has long sailed. They will face additional competition from some of their busiest routes (Paris and Amsterdam) which will probably trash the yields.
      Say and believe what you want but OU will not be expanding anywhere east of Germany and north of Copenhagen. The only reason they fly to CPH is because it's yet another massive Star hub.
      By teaming up with Air Serbia they could cover a market they can't on their own and that's the Balkans and the Middle East. If Adria can they I don't see why OU can't. Especially since the former is actually a professionally run airline, unlike the latter. I can also speak from personal experience since I fly on both of them to/from SKP.

    8. Anonymous18:15

      No one said that Air Serbia and Belgrade aren't dominant in terms of passenger numbers, they definitely should cooperate, but why are you accusing OU (until this year the strongest carrier in Ex Yu) only?

    9. Olen from SKP18:46

      Because Air Serbia has expanded in Croatia big time this year and they have formed cooperation agreements with both Adria and B&H Airlines. They also offered cooperation to Montenegro Airlines but they were turned down.
      I am just applying logical thinking here.

      I don't think Air Serbia is the one to not want to work with Croatia Airlines. If anything, they have been open to cooperation with anyone. Just look at how many interline and code-share agreements they have. Like I said, I am just applying logic. I might be wrong.

    10. Olen from SKP18:51

      I am pissed off at Air Serbia for cancelling their night flight into Skopje during the winter season! Such a shame. They should be consistent with their flights and frequencies!

      At least some flights will still be operated by the A319!

    11. How is see this is that in last 2 years a lot of things changed in this (small) market. We have stronger JU, JP is doing a lot of out of the box thinking, new operator in Zagreb bringing new airlines etc. During all this time OU is sitting tight, cutting costs and waiting for EU imposed restructuring to end in 2015. When that moment comes what they might find is that a lot of these routes/markets are already well covered and established and the only way for them to join the party is to show their financial muscle and I'm not so sure they’ll be ready for that kind of game. BEG-ZAG and cooperation with regional airlines (including JU) or lack thereof is the perfect example to me.

      Now some people might say that they can't do anything because of LH and their queasy feeder status but I don’t agree with that. All we need to do is look at JP. I don’t think that as companies or as countries in general they are in much different position but they still seem to be doing something to adjust, find new markets, pick the battles they have a chance of winning, all while feeding traffic to FRA and MUC. To me it comes to management first (not the news to anyone here I’m sure). Unless there is some funny business we don’t know about with the goal to lower company’s value so that somebody can buy it cheap. We saw similar scenario run so many times in our countries so I wouldn't discount anything because it can’t be that it’s so obvious to us “experts” here and not so much to the people that are in the middle of it.

    12. Anonymous19:37

      Let's not forget how people on this blog used to trash Adria Airways, writing how it'll go bankrupt and waiting for the EC verdict regarding state subsidies! All of a sudden, no one makes jokes about them! Interesting!

    13. Olen from SKP19:39

      Of course, that's why it will be interesting to see if the Croats will manage to find a winning formula to keep their airline alive the same way Slovenia and Serbia had done.
      I just think that OU should not give up on their regional network- they should further reinforce it the moment they can. I do like OU, I always enjoyed flying them. Four or five when I flew with the A319 there were maybe 40 passengers on board. I hope that there was cargo or a full flight on the previous leg. :/

      I also wonder to what extent Wizz Air hurt their operations in Skopje. After all, the connections they offer via ZAG could be well covered by Wizz Air- at least most of them can.

    14. Anonymous19:40

      Croatia Airlines has a bad management, it's not just LH's fault, and Croatian government does nothing to make it better! Things should change for Croatia Airlines before it's too late!

    15. Anonymous19:40

      You can't make a joke about something that's no longer a joke. We got OU now!
      It's also funny how people have given up on posting JU's on-time performance! Interesting!

    16. @ Anonymous 7:37 PM

      I agree but since then they made several moves that were not so obvious. To me that's the sign of a very good mgmt., taking some calculated risks and adjusting to the situation they are in.

    17. @ Olen from SKP

      I don't think that they should give up regional market and i'm sure they never will but in a way of all these companies they should be the one least dependant on it, at least not in the summer with all those tourists every year. However, their market share even there is not where it should be.

      I can't fail but notice that this market is just way to small for this many players and some consolidation in the form of mergers, acquisitions or outright bankruptcy will have to happen sooner or later. We'll see who is going to emerge as a winner but those who have smart people at the helm as well as deep pockets usually come out on the top.

    18. Anonymous22:36

      CTN ako se ne promeni za 1 godinu bice mu uskoro sahrana nazalost.
      Jos ako su istinite te price za AGX ima da bude u mocnom meljacu od JU-JP-AGX gde ce se tesko izboriti,

    19. Olen from SKP10:28


      Well, when I said that they should expand in the region I did not necessarily mean ex-Yugoslavia. They could expand in the Balkans and in the countries that are next to it like Romania or Hungary. I am sure they could attract some passengers from there. The problem is that their hub structure is highly inefficient and they don't have that many interesting destinations in western Europe.

  6. Gledajuci divan razvoj vazdusne luke, jedne od rivala Beogradskog aerodrome, iskreno se pitam kada cemo videti sumu kranova, ekspanziju i preporod te Bozanstvene vazdusne luke kod usca Save u Dunav. Kao u svemu ljudska slobodna volja je cinilac koji potrebe materjalizuje, a zelje pretvara u radost ostvarenja. Sta je uzvisenije od rasta aerodrome bilo kojih, bilo gde. common Belgrade, neo is yours turn!...
    Rod. Son & Co. Kraljevo /// Sydney.

    1. Anonymous18:38

      "Kao u svemu ljudska slobodna volja je cinilac koji potrebe materjalizuje, a zelje pretvara u radost ostvarenja."

      you make my day rodni. even if your posts have nothing to do with the topic or aviation. don't change man.

    2. Postovani Anony. at 2:38, radujem se da Vam je moj prilaz i percepcija, kako kazete, "make my day Rodney". Sto kazete da nema nista sa temom (topic), toliko ste Vi razumeli. Za mene dovoljno... Doduse nisam pomenuo mesto gde se gradi terminal, ali fotografija kranova na gradnji novog terminala kao i sam naslov to pokazuju . Jedino opet ponavljam na Srpskom, zelju "hajde Beograde, sada je tvoj red ". Ostajem i dalje sa cinjenicom da ljudi koji rade, odluciju u svemu ukljucujuci komercijalnu avijaciju, neizostavno upotrebljavaju upotrbljavaju slobodnu a pozitivnu volju. Bez te volje ni aerodrome ni letenja letenja. Pa ni mojih oko 4500 sati letova u blizu zadnjih 50 godina.
      Svako Vam dobro i napredak. Meni jos bar dvadesetak inter-kontinentalnih letova. Za ostalo kako Bog da. A za topic i aviation, kada budem nesto o tome naucio.

  7. Anonymous12:51

    Izvinjavam se !!! Dali je istina da ce W6 leteti iz INI :) Konacno da i ZAG krene na bolje. INN-NS

    1. Anonymous13:18

      To sam citao ali po internetu kruze vesti da je W6 :). INN-NS

    2. Anonymous13:20

      Pa procitaj clanak ponovo. Potvrdjen je Wizz Air

    3. Anonymous16:51

      Nista nije potvrdjeno. Pregovaraju.

    4. Anonymous16:57

      Mislio sam, potvrdjeno je da pregovaraju sa Wizz-om. Do sada ni to nismo znali.

  8. Anonymous16:12

    Great news. Congrats Zagreb :))

  9. Anonymous16:14

    Oh and nice photo. It is great to see development at ZAG although I am very disappointed with the final design of the terminal and the project which has been so heavily reduced from the original grand plans. But still something is better than nothing. The current terminal has seen very few changes from Yugoslav times while everyone else has expanded or constructed new terminals. Also I think it is unacceptable that ZAG doesn’t have air bridges and before anyone says how Doha had no air bridges until a few months ago I will just say I think that was beyond unacceptable as well and why Doha was such a nightmare to use.

    1. Anonymous16:29

      It's not final design of the terminal and the project, it's just phase one, with more to follow, and I could hardly say it has been heavily reduced : current terminal has 14 bus gates, new one will have 8 airbridges and 8 bus gates, which is totally 30. 3 airbridges less, or 30 gates instead of 33, or 10% less exits could hardly be called "heavy reduction". And 30 exits would definitely be enough for ZAG for at least 4-5 years. And then probably construction of phase 2 will begin.

  10. Anonymous20:20

    Does anyone know why OU's afternoon flights to Heathrow, Zurich and Frankfurt were heavily delayed?

    1. Anonymous20:37

      Probably bad weather. I think there were big storms but not sure 100%


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