Monday, 16 August 2021

Ryanair Zagreb Base Will Destabilize Croatia Airlines, Says Air Transport Expert Tonči Peović

August 16, 2021 - Air transport expert Tonči Peović discusses the Ryanair Zagreb base, the fate of Croatia Airlines, and when Croatian airports will see pre-pandemic figures again. 

While the number of tourists arriving by road in Croatia in recent weeks is the same as in the record 2019, aircraft and passengers at Croatian airports are still significantly less than pre-epidemic times. Tonči Peović, director of Brač Airport and the Air Transport Association president, which brings together all Croatian airports and airlines, talks about the challenges facing civil aviation with Jutarnji List.

What is the traffic like at Croatian airports?

"Traffic is returning, but we are not even close to the figures from 2019. In the first six months, we achieved 16 percent of the traffic of 2019, but July brought a dose of optimism with about 30 percent of passengers compared to 2019. In the first seven months, we are at 25 percent of 2019, and if there are no major disruptions with the measures, I believe that this trend will continue in August and September and that in the whole of 2021, we will have 35 to 37 percent of passengers compared to 2019. The biggest drop in the number of flights are from North and South America, as much as 60 percent, and toward other markets about 40 percent. The drop in the number of passengers is somewhat bigger because the planes are less crowded. Purchasing power seems to have fallen, and epidemiological measures are often not clear enough."

British Jet2 has recently established numerous routes to Split and Dubrovnik; Ryanair has started flying to Zagreb and is announcing many new routes. Is there a reason for optimism?

"Of course there is. Ryanair is the first operator in the European sky in terms of the number of flights."

Is the low-cost model the future?

"I wouldn't say. Low cost is rising, but all models must be represented. Traditional carriers that adapt to the new conditions will survive. Currently, 39 percent of traffic in Europe is held by low-cost carriers, 44 percent by traditional companies, and 12 percent by charter companies. Air traffic has become more accessible than ever. Before the crisis, the annual number of passengers in the world was seven billion. Low-cost airlines bring in less revenue to airports. Therefore, I am not sure how good the Ryanair base is being established in Zagreb. This will bring great uncertainty to Croatia Airlines. In Split and Dubrovnik, Ryanair pays the same price for airport services as all other companies."

Last year, only 2.2 million passengers were transported through all Croatian airports, and in 2019 there were 11.5 million.

"Last year is better to forget. We are at least twice as good now. Dubrovnik, for example, had 60,000 passengers in June and only 10,000 last year. So I hope this season will be quite long. If the weather is good and the epidemic doesn’t go wild, we could have the season until the end of October."

Why does air passenger transport recover more slowly than road transport?

"The companies offered flights, but they fill up less. Passengers prefer to come by personal vehicles because they have the freedom to return whenever they want. We didn’t even have guests from Scandinavia, the UK, and the US in the first half of the year. Now that the measures have eased, it will take time for the traffic to start. People usually buy tickets a month before the flight. And many passengers were unable to return from distant destinations last year due to the measures. Fearing this will happen again, people are less willing to travel by plane. Today, even guests from Sweden come to Croatia by car, which is a two-day trip."

If the epidemic calms down, how long will it take to reach the number of passengers from 2019?

"There are estimates that it will take three to four years. I estimate that many weaker airlines will go bankrupt in the fall, mostly those with a smaller fleet that will not pay for aircraft leasing. This year, the price of kerosene is also very high, about $75 per barrel, and last year it was $15. On the other hand, new companies that do not have losses from previous years are being established, so they are attractive to investors. For example, Croatian Trade Air recently acquired a new aircraft with four Airbus 320s and several more Fokkers with about 100 seats. In contrast, another small Croatian company, EasyFly, already has three aircraft. Regarding the number of seats, the two companies together are almost as big as Croatia Airlines."

How do Croatian airports operate in these times of crisis?

"It is easier for airports than for airlines because they have a larger share capital than income. Croatian airports will be on the verge of covering workers' salaries with their revenues this year. We asked the Government to continue with the support measure of HRK 4,000 per worker. We want no one to lose their jobs because our workers are specially educated, and we want to keep them for the future. We get support from the state if we prove that our turnover drop is greater than 70 percent compared to 2019. Without that, we would have to borrow from banks."

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Monday, 29 March 2021

Croatia Airlines Flights to Osijek and Brac Airport Canceled Until Mid-April

March 29, 2021 - The latest flight news as Croatia Airlines flights to Osijek and Brac have been canceled until mid-April. 

Croatian Aviation reports that the Croatian national airline has announced the introduction of seasonal PSO routes within Croatia at the beginning of the summer flight schedule. However, flights on three PSO lines have been canceled until mid-April.

Croatia Airlines has canceled flights between Osijek and Split, Osijek and Dubrovnik, and Zagreb and Brac until the second half of April. Considering that these are PSO routes, on which the Republic of Croatia compensates for the difference between the realized revenues and direct flight costs, it is not clear why the national airline canceled the already announced flights.

Croatia Airlines offered flights on Sundays on the Split - Osijek - Split route starting March 28, but the first two announced rotations were canceled. Currently, the first direct flight on this line is on offer for April 11, but the company may cancel that flight as well.

The Dubrovnik - Osijek - Dubrovnik line was supposed to start operating today (March 29), but that flight was canceled, and other flights on Mondays until April 19.

According to the PSO program, the seasonal Zagreb - Brac - Zagreb service should operate twice a week. Still, the company canceled flights on Tuesdays until May and scheduled flights on Saturdays until April 24 were also canceled, which obviously will not meet the minimum prescribed number of available seats on the line this year.

Passenger demand is very low during the pandemic. Still, given that these are routes on which the state bears the difference between revenues and costs, it is not clear why Croatia Airlines canceled these flights, especially around the Easter holidays, when a certain number of Croatian citizens will surely travel between distant regions.

The purpose of the PSO is to enable rapid connectivity between the outermost regions. A flight lasting less than an hour between Zagreb and Brač or Osijek and Dubrovnik can in no way have an alternative in road transport, which takes many times longer, and which a certain number of passengers will now be forced to do since there are no direct flights at the moment, or they will cancel the planned trip.

Passengers from Osijek have an alternative to travel to Dubrovnik and Split with Trade Air, which opened sales in the summer flight schedule a few days ago, so travel by plane from Osijek to Split is possible four times a week, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. In contrast, flights to Dubrovnik are available twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tickets can be purchased on the airline's website.

The PSO program will continue to apply until the end of this year's summer flight schedule according to the items from the contract in force from 2016 to 2020. The Ministry of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure said that the tender for the new contract period was not announced due to the outbreak of a global pandemic. When asked how the pandemic was justified when the tender was supposed to be announced a few months before the virus appeared in China, the competent Ministry did not answer.

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Sunday, 14 February 2021

Brač Airport Director Tonči Peović: Air Traffic Recovery will Depend on Dynamics of Vaccination

February 14, 2021 - Brač Airport Director Tonči Peović comments on what Croatian airports can expect this year.

HRTurizam reports that airlines from all over the world are announcing the return of seasonal flights to Croatian airports. Thankfully, as well, after Croatia experienced a devastating loss last year. In 2020, slightly more than 2 million passengers passed through Croatia's seven airports, while a year before, there were almost 11 and a half million.

"At the global level, there has been a decline in passenger traffic of 64%, in Europe, this percentage is 70%, and in Croatia, it rises to 78%. Large countries such as Russia or China, which due to their size have stronger domestic traffic, have not had such a decline, mostly because they recorded an increase in the segment of domestic passengers," explains Tonči Peović, President of the Air Transport Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and the director of Brač Airport. He adds that one of the reasons for such results is the lack of harmonization and agreement at the international level.

Namely, after the attack on New York in 2001, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations agreed in the shortest possible time on counter-terrorism, which airlines and world governments began to implement soon after. Such cooperation was lacking during the coronavirus pandemic. The difference in applying epidemiological measures from country to country has negatively affected and still affects air transport.

"When the epidemiological measures subside, and when air traffic is re-established to a greater extent, I expect that the biggest downtime will occur in intercontinental flights and in business class. In intercontinental flights, the delay could be due to passengers' fear of coronavirus outbreaks, which makes it difficult to get back to your destination, and in business class, because companies around the world have started using all the benefits of online remote meeting tools while there are travel restrictions, so I believe that business people will not fly like they used to," emphasizes Peović.

Croatian airports are hoping for some traffic recovery in 2021. Optimism is mostly based on the announcements of airlines, which will operate seasonal flights to and from Croatia. Namely, in 2019, a significant increase in passenger traffic at airports was achieved in April, and similar results were recorded in previous years.

"The first lockdown in Croatia, in April last year, reduced air traffic in Croatia to almost zero. This year, we can hardly expect an "awakening" in early April, at Easter time. In the current situation, we may be able to expect a slight recovery in early May, but this will depend on the dynamics of the split. The lack of vaccines is already playing a big role, so everything will probably continue. Recovery also depends on the situation in the countries from which most of our tourists come, and in most of them, there is a lockdown. All previous optimistic announcements are based on good wishes, but we have to talk about the facts," said Peović.

Airlines worldwide are eagerly awaiting the recovery of air traffic and have been actively involved in solving the problem. The introduction of so-called "Covid passports," i.e., passports for safe travel, would greatly facilitate business. However, such passports also open up a handful of new questions. One of the largest is the type of vaccine. Namely, the vaccine given in some countries is not accepted in others. Therefore, people who have received a vaccine will not be able to travel to destinations where the same vaccine is not accepted.

Therefore, the International Air Transport Association has recently launched a travel pass initiative, which allows the integration of multiple passports or applications and determines which tests for COVID-19 and vaccines are allowed.

"The desire is to introduce standard software, for example for smartphones, with which it will be immediately visible whether passengers have the necessary documents and permits for the destination they are traveling to. Airlines worldwide can’t wait to start flying because even though their current costs are minimal, they want to make a profit, even a minimal one. But the question is how many airlines will survive after the measures are relaxed because, with the start of flights, the costs become much higher. If there is no interest of people in travel and the planes are not filled, I believe that the companies will make big losses, some of which will not recover," says Peović.

And what are the predictions for Brač Airport, which last year achieved only 17% of the traffic from 2019? Well, according to the airline’s announcements, the year could be quite successful. Namely, Brač Airport expects to maintain two Croatia Airlines' flights between Zagreb and Brač this year, which operates twice a week during the summer flight schedule, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

On its long-term charter line Graz - Brač, Croatia Airlines plans to resume traffic from mid-May to early October. German Sundair plans charter flights from Dusseldorf on Saturdays and from Berlin on Sundays from the beginning of May to the end of October, and ticket sales have already started. Charter flights from Bern and Graz will be operated by Great Dane Airlines in the off-season, from September to October.

"Negotiations are currently underway with Luxair, which connected Brač with Luxembourg two years ago, so I hope that Luxair will decide on reintroducing the line this summer. There is also LOT, the largest Polish airline with which we are in negotiations. We have sent them all the requested documents, and we are waiting for a response."

While the recovery of air traffic is expected, Brač Airport is not sitting idly by but is working to improve conditions. Namely, the airport upgrade project is in progress, where they are extending and widening the runway and reconstructing the passenger terminal. A construction permit for the passenger terminal and a location permit for the runway is pending. After that, the passenger terminal reconstruction project will apply for the EU energy efficiency project, as part of the initiative that arose in response to the impact of COVID-19. 

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Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Brac Airport Optimistic about 2021 Tourist Season in Croatia

January 20, 2021 - Brac Airport is optimistic this year and will be satisfied with 70% of passengers compared to 2019's figures.

Brac Airport is preparing for the summer season in which the recovery of the tourism sector and air traffic is expected. Croatian Aviation asked Brac Airport Director Tonci Peovic about what the airport can expect this year.

Brac Airport has had two routes by Croatian national airline, Croatia Airlines, for years. It is the domestic line between Zagreb and Brac, which operates twice a week in the summer schedule, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It will operate this summer season, too. 

Also, on its long-term charter line Graz - Brac, Croatia Airlines plans to resume operations from mid-May to early October. This is the same program the airline has implemented in cooperation with tour operators in previous seasons.

The Czech company CSA also operated charter flights, which has not yet announced its flights for this year, but as this is a charter, it has enough time to do so. It is clear that charter flights primarily depend on the sale of package deals. Bookings will begin only with the arrival of spring and the eventual easing of restrictive measures.

On Saturdays and Sundays, German Sundair plans to introduce charter flights from Berlin and Dusseldorf from early May to late October, a plan the airline announced back in November last year. 

Brac Airport will also welcome charter flights from Bern and Graz this summer, operated by Great Dane Airlines, in the postseason, from September to October. The company will operate an E195 aircraft to Brac, which has a capacity of 118 passengers with this carrier.

In the 2017 summer season, TUI introduced two charter lines to Brac, from Brussels and Deauville, while in the 2018 summer flight schedule, a third line was introduced; Rotterdam - Brac. The airport has not yet received information from TUI regarding operations for this summer, so it is not certain that TUI will operate to Brac this year.

In the summer of 2018, Luxair introduced the Luxembourg - Brac line, but it did not operate last year for objective reasons. Peovic confirmed that the airport is currently negotiating with this airline, and they hope that Luxair will decide on re-introducing this route as early as this summer.

Namely, in response to the pandemic and the devastating effect on air traffic, the airport reduced prices for several aircraft groups, sharing the risk of re-establishing traffic to Brac Airport.

Peovic also points out that there are announcements of a change in the hotel group's ownership structure on the island, which is expected to have positive effects on Brac Airport but only in 2022. 

Considering the announced traffic for this summer season, Brac Airport will be satisfied with 70% of passengers compared to the figures from 2019.

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Monday, 11 January 2021

Less Than 2.2 million Passengers at Croatian Airports in 2020

January 11, 2021 – Unlike the record 2019, when more than 11.4 million passengers passed through Croatian airports, in the crisis 2020, that number dropped by as much as 81 percent, counting less than 2.2 million passengers.

At the beginning of each new year, the revenues from the last tourist year are added up, and tourists' numbers are concluded. However, it was inevitable that in 2020, during which world tourism experienced a massive decline due to the coronavirus pandemic, would also affect tourist numbers.

As reported earlier, the Croatian tourism sector saw 50 percent fewer tourist overnight stays in 2020 than the record 2019. Likewise, commercial aviation experienced its largest decline in history. In 2020, Croatian airports accepted and dispatched less than 2.2 million passengers, writes Croatian Aviation.

Traffic to Croatia's three largest airports, Zagreb, Split, and Dubrovnik, has been growing steadily for years, but this series has been interrupted by a global pandemic. The three mentioned airports had over 9.6 million passengers in 2019, while in 2020, they recorded less than 2 million passengers together (1,929,336). The fact that the other five Croatian airports had 242,827 passengers last year is also devastating, of which Zadar alone served over 120,000 passengers.


Source: Franjo Tuđman Zagreb Airport

With 924,823 passengers throughout the year, the main Croatian airport Franjo Tuđman Zagreb failed to reach the millionth passenger in 2020. However, almost half of the total Croatian traffic in 2020 was realized at the Zagreb airport.

Although it recorded an increase in the number of passengers in January and February compared to the same period in 2019, Franjo Tuđman Airport recorded a decrease in the number of passengers of 73 percent compared to 2019.

Unlike Zagreb Airport, Split Airport in January and February has modest traffic compared to the summer, seasonal months, and so it was in 2020. However, after the global pandemic hit Croatia, air traffic in Split almost stopped.

However, compared to other Croatian airports on the coast, Split still had a certain number of passengers in the peak season, especially in August. Still, the numbers in the post-season dropped drastically again. With 674,366 passengers, Split Airport recorded a decrease in the number of passengers of 79.58 percent compared to 2019.

Dubrovnik Airport was one of the biggest losers last year. It was closed in April, while the traffic was very poor in May and June. An increase in the number of passengers was recorded only in July and August, but not enough to avoid a large drop in the number of passengers.

Although many companies flew to Dubrovnik this summer, the planes were empty rather than full, as confirmed by statistics. The decrease in the number of passengers at Dubrovnik Airport is 88.6 percent compared to 2019.


Source: Zadar Airport

Traffic also dropped drastically at Zadar Airport, but not as much as in Pula. These two Croatian airports have been competing in the number of passengers for several years, and the difference between them is relatively small. Nevertheless, in 2020, Zadar accepted almost 40,000 more passengers than Pula. Zadar Airport recorded a drop in the number of passengers of 84.93 percent compared to 2019, and Pula Airport 89.6 percent.

In 2019, Rijeka Airport finally exceeded 200,000 passengers for the first time in its history. Still, the numbers dropped drastically in 2020 as many airlines have given up on introducing seasonal routes to this airport due to the global pandemic. Rijeka Airport thus recorded a decrease in the number of passengers of 86.22 percent compared to 2019.

In 2020, Osijek Airport had only domestic PSO (Public Service Obligation) lines and the Eurowings line to Stuttgart, but only in August. It recorded a decrease in the number of passengers of 85.72 percent compared to the previous 2019.

Brač Airport also recorded a decline in the number of passengers in 2020. A slightly more significant number of passengers was recorded only in July and August, but these are also modest numbers compared to the 2019 summer season.

You can see the graphs of the 2020 traffic from all Croatian airports at Croatian Aviation.

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Friday, 6 November 2020

Flights to Croatia: Sundair Operates to Brac from Berlin and Dusseldorf in 2021

November 6, 2020 - The latest news for flights to Croatia as Sundair operates to Brac from Berlin and Dusseldorf as part of its 2021 flight schedule, and more. 

Croatian Aviation reports that German charter airline Sundair has announced two new routes to Croatia in its 2021 summer flight schedule. Namely, Sundair will operate on the lines from Berlin and Dusseldorf to Bol on the island of Brac. 

German tour operators are already selling group and individual arrangements for the summer of 2021 on the island of Brac, offering direct flights from Berlin and Dusseldorf, operated by Sundair.

The Dusseldorf - Brac line will be in operation from May 22 to October 2, 2021, once a week, every Saturday, while the Berlin - Brac line will be in operation from May 23 to October 3, 2021, also once a week, on Sundays.

As a reminder, Sundair was supposed to operate on the charter line between Frankfurt and Brac for the German tour operator this summer, but the flights were canceled due to weak demand caused by the global pandemic.

A319 aircraft with 150 seats in the fleet of this airline will operate on the routes to Brac. If the flights are realized (which will primarily depend on demand), Brac will directly connect with German cities after a long time.

Furthermore, Ex Yu Aviation reports that low-cost carrier easyJet will launch a seasonal service between Glasgow and Pula in June 2021, which will run on Monday and Friday until September 3. easyJet will be the only airline connecting the two cities. 

Ex Yu Aviation also reports that Brussels Airlines will resume its seasonal operations between the Belgian and Croatian capitals next summer. Brussels Airlines plans to return to Zagreb with six weekly flights (each day except Saturday), beginning March 28. Airbus A319 aircraft will operate on this route. 

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Thursday, 28 February 2019

Plans and Expectations for Croatian Airports 2019: Brač

February 28, 2019 - TCN continues looking at the plans and expectations for Croatian airports in 2019, with updates from Brač airport. 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Flights to Croatia: SkyUp to Introduce Brač Service from Kiev

February 14, 2019 - The latest news from around Croatia’s airports for new flights to Croatia with updates from Dubrovnik, Pula, Rijeka, and Brač airport. 

Monday, 24 September 2018

Serbian Planes to Land at One Croatian Airport

''The extended runway enables the beginning of the cooperation with Air Serbia, with whom we've been negotiating for a long time,'' stated Peović.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

47,000 Air Passengers at Brač Airport this Summer? Dalmatian Island Awaits Tourist Invasion

Brač Airport is expecting the busiest season yet. 

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