Sunday, 27 February 2022

Aeroflot Cancels Zagreb Flights, Croatia Bans Russian Airlines

February 27, 2022 - The latest flight news to Croatia as Aeroflot cancels Zagreb flights, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announces that Croatia bans Russian airlines.

Due to the Russian aggression on Ukraine, Western countries are imposing more and more sanctions on the Russian Federation. Among other things, more and more countries are banning the landing, take-off, and overflight of Russian airlines. The biggest restrictions on air traffic are expected since the end of the Cold War, reports Croatian Aviation.

An increasing number of European countries are banning Russian airline flights through their airspace, which is another blow to the Russian economy through air transport. Russia has reciprocally banned the overflight of aircraft and European countries that have introduced this restriction.

Russia's S7 Airlines has already cut off regular flights from Russia to European countries, explaining the move as a result of the ban on overflights of many European countries, which significantly complicates the planning of operations and increases fuel consumption, given that it is no longer possible to fly the shortest route on almost all routes.

It is also expected that a decision will be made at the European Union level to ban Russian aircraft from flying over the airspace of all EU member states, leaving Russian carriers unable to find an alternative and forced to cancel all operations. Thus, in addition to the disabled passenger transport, Russia will also be unable to transport cargo, which will directly affect the business of the airline and Russian airports.

Many critics reacted and called out the European Union for not withdrawing the move and closing the European skies to Russian carriers, but the fact is that there are certainly a large number of European citizens in Russia who now want to return to their home countries as soon as possible, and the same would be completely disabled by air in the event of an EU closure.

If that happens (and it most likely will), it will be the biggest restriction on air traffic since the end of the Cold War, but the move will not benefit either side.

Most European airlines use Russian airspace when flying from Europe to Asia and vice versa, given that this is the shortest route, but several carriers have already been banned from flying over Russian airspace (or they decided to do it for security reasons), so they fly a long way between Europe and Asia, avoiding Russian airspace.

In addition to all the above, the sanctions go in the direction of banning the export of spare parts for aircraft to Russia, which will further complicate the normal conduct of operations for Russian carriers.

In the coming days we can expect further bans from other European countries, as well as a decision at the EU level, which will, first of all, force Aeroflot, Russia's national airline, to cancel almost all flights to European cities, and consequently flights from St. Petersburg and Moscow to Zagreb. Several flights from Russia to Croatian airports have been announced for the summer, with about 50 weekly flights in the peak season. If the sanctions continue to be in force, Croatian airports will compensate for the lack of passengers from Russia by increasing demand from other markets, given that further recovery in air traffic due to the global pandemic is expected.

Aeroflot closed sales on all flights between Zagreb and Moscow today until March 27, and flights for tomorrow and the day after are currently canceled. It is a logical move after Italy banned the flight of aircraft registered in Russia, so now the closest route to Aeroflot is to Zagreb via Turkey and Greece. The Government is on the move, which is expected to decide on the ban on the entry of aircraft registered in Russia into Croatian airspace, which was confirmed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. 

"The government has already made a political decision today to ban flights for our air traffic to Russian airlines. We will make appropriate decisions at the EU level. We will make a decision on the implementation of restrictive measures that will, given the dynamic situation in Ukraine, address this issue on a daily basis," Plenković said today for Index.hr.

A formal decision is expected on Monday, February 28, so with the entry into force of that decision, Aeroflot will no longer be able to fly to, from, or via Croatia.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Croatia Has Inherited Proposal to Raise Minimum Flight Delay, Minister Says

ZAGREB, February 5, 2020 - Croatia has only inherited the proposal to raise the minimum flight delay for which passengers can receive financial compensation, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković said on Wednesday.

"This proposal was not put forward by the Croatian EU presidency, a Croatian ministry or the Croatian government. This point is again being raised by the European Commission during our presidency and is yet to be discussed," Butković told the press before an inner cabinet meeting.

"Croatia's position on the matter is logical and normal. We will not be asking for air companies to get richer at the expense of end users, that is citizens," the minister added.

Under EU rules, travellers are entitled to up to €600 compensation if a flight is delayed by at least three hours or cancelled less than 14 days before departure. They can also receive compensation if they are denied boarding.

Some national authorities and courts have criticised the rules, saying member states struggle to process the large number of claims they receive, and airlines' compensation payments have grown because the number of delays and cancellations has risen.

Talks among EU governments on revising passengers' rights, which have been in place since 2005, are due to start in the coming weeks. Any agreement will be considered by the European Commission and Parliament.

The European Commission proposed in 2013 that the minimum flight delay be increased from three to five hours, but negotiations stalled after that.

An informal document circulated among member states has proposed keeping the level of compensation the same as now for passengers, but suggested increasing the minimum flight delay for which airlines must make payments.

In 2018, 17.6 million passengers were affected by flight cancellations and 16.5 million by long delays.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Croatia for Amending Rules on Compensation for Flight Delays and Cancellations

ZAGREB, February 5, 2020 - The European Union will consider raising from three hours the minimum flight delay for which passengers can receive financial compensation, a move that could cut airlines' costs, according to a document seen by Reuters.

Croatia, which is chairing the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2020, "has proposed amending the rules on compensation for delays and cancellations at talks among EU governments on revising passengers' rights that are due to start in the coming weeks."

"Under EU rules, travellers are entitled to up to 600 euros (663.24 dollars) if a flight is delayed by at least three hours or cancelled less than 14 days before departure. They can also receive compensation if they are denied boarding," Reuters recalls.

But some national authorities and courts have criticised the rules, saying member states struggle to process the large number of claims they receive, and airlines' compensation payments have grown because the number of delays and cancellations has risen.

In 2018, 17.6 million passengers were affected by a cancellation and 16.5 million by a long delay, Reuters reported.

In an informal document circulated among member states, Croatia has proposed keeping the level of compensation the same as now for passengers, but suggested increasing the minimum flight delay for which airlines must make payments.

Zagreb made the proposals "in order to take account of the high financial burden for airlines and of the fact that delays are less and less imputable to airlines," the document said.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Record Number of Air Passengers in EU in 2018, Croatia Sees 10% Rise

ZAGREB, December 7, 2019 - In 2018, Croatia was among the EU member states with two-digit increases in the number of air passengers, while at EU level the number was the highest since Eurostat has been keeping records, the EU's statistical office said on Friday.

In 2018, 1.1 billion passengers travelled by air in the European Union, up by 6% compared with 2017 and by 43% compared with 2010.

In 2018, intra-EU transport represented 46% of total air passenger transport in the EU and extra-EU transport 37%, while national transport accounted for fewer than 1 in every 5 passengers (16%).

The number of air passengers carried in 2018 rose in all member states compared with 2017. The highest increases were registered in Lithuania (+19%), Latvia, Poland and Slovakia (all +16%), Estonia and Hungary (both +14%), Malta (+13%), Luxembourg (+12%) and Finland (+11%).

Croatia recorded 9.73 million air passengers in 2018, up 10% on the year, with 7.49 million travelling intra-EU, 1.7 million extra-EU and 528,000 within Croatia.

The lowest increase was registered in Sweden (+1%), followed by the United Kingdom (+3%), Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands (all +4%).

London/Heathrow remained the EU’s busiest passenger airport in 2018, with 80 million passengers handled, followed by Paris/Charles de Gaulle (72 million).

More news about flights to Croatia can be found in the Travel section.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Bosnia to Take Over Control of Its Air Space from Zagreb, Belgrade

ZAGREB, December 4, 2019 - On Friday Bosnia and Herzegovina will take full control of its air space and will start controlling all air traffic above its territory on its own, something it has been doing with the help of air control services in Zagreb and Belgrade since 1996, the Bosnia and Herzegovina Air Navigation Services Agency (BHANSA) confirmed on Wednesday.

Bosnia and Herzegovina air traffic controllers will take over full control of the country's air space from their colleagues in Croatia and Serbia in the night between December 4 and 5, and as of that moment they will also be navigating planes flying over Bosnia and Herzegovina's territory at altitudes of more than 10,000 metres.

Bosnia and Herzegovina currently has 60 trained air controllers.

Since 1996, when regular air traffic was established in Bosnia and Herzegovina and international flight corridors above the country were opened, the job of controlling air traffic has been done by controllers from Zagreb and Belgrade because Bosnia and Herzegovina lacked the necessary capacity and equipment as well as trained personnel.

It was only in 2014 that the country took over control of air traffic at lower altitudes, namely those below 10,000 metres, and now it will perform control of all air traffic above its territory.

It is estimated that around 1,600 planes fly along corridors at altitudes of more than 10,000 metres above Bosnia and Herzegovina every day, while only some 200 fly at lower altitudes.

The fees that are collected from this amount to around 15 million euro annually and the largest portion of that money has so far gone to the air flight control services in Zagreb and Belgrade.

"This is a big day for Bosnia and Herzegovina because in a relatively short period of time, as the youngest European air control agency, we have managed to create technical, personnel and all other conditions to control air traffic above Bosnia and Herzegovina's territory on our own," said BHANSA director Davorin Primorac.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Croatia's Civil Aviation Agency to Assist North Macedonia

ZAGREB, August 26, 2019 - The Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (HACZ) will be the project promoter of the "Support for participation in the ECAA - European Common Aviation Area" twinning project valued at 250,000 euro that will provide assistance and expertise to aviation authorities in North Macedonia, the HACZ reported on Monday.

The EU Delegation to North Macedonia last week announced that the HACZ would be the project promoter following the evaluation of bids submitted at an international tender, the HACZ noted.

The project is aimed at providing expertise and assistance to North Macedonia's civil aviation authorities in an effort to support the sustainable development of civil aviation in accordance with international standards and EU legal acquis in that field.

That will be achieved by aligning national legislation with European laws and increasing North Macedonia's aviation capacities and technical competence.

"The HACZ's international success as a partner to Macedonia's aviation authorities in this project is yet another recognition of its successful work so far and confirmation of the HACZ's institutional status within the framework of the relevant civil aviation authorities in the EU," the HACZ said.

The agency underlined that over the past ten years it has developed into a respectable and desired partner in the EU, primarily due to its human resources potential and value, and this has been confirmed with a successfully completed twinning project with Georgia in 2015-2017, when HACZ was a junior partner to the Austro Control GmbH in the implementation of that project.

More news about relations between Croatia and North Macedonia can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Croatian Airports Record 252,000 Passengers in February

ZAGREB, April 14, 2019 - Croatian airports recorded a total of 252,000 passengers in February 2019, up 9.9% on February 2018, while the number of flight operations increased by 8.4% to 4,442, data from the national statistical office show.

On the other hand, the amount of cargo handled by all nine airports fell by 15.4% to 734 tonnes.

Zagreb airport recorded the largest number of passengers, 179,500, an increase of 5.8%, ahead of Dubrovnik airport (33,600 passengers, +39%) and Split airport (33,100 passengers, +13.7%)

Osijek airport reported a 6% decline in the number of passengers, to 2,500, while Rijeka airport recorded 1,500 passengers, up 136%.

Most of the passengers came from Germany (72,300, +17.9%) and France (12,500, +0.2%). The largest increase was recorded among passengers from Belgium (47.4% or 6,700).

Figures show that the nine Croatian airports recorded 509,000 passengers in the first two months of this year, or 5.8% more than at the same time in 2018.

More news about Croatian airports can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Croatia Control Awarded at World Air Traffic Management Congress

ZAGREB, March 18 (Hina) - Croatia Control (HKZP), a state-owned company that provides air navigation services, pursuing the basic principle of a high level of air traffic safety in conformity with the Single European Sky framework, received the European Commission’s Single European Sky Award 2019 for a multinational project on the establishment of a joint South East Common Sky Initiative Free Route Airspace, which became operational on February 1.

The award was given to Croatia Control at the World Air Traffic Management Congress which took place in Madrid.

The partners in the projects are air navigation service providers from Austria, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro. The award was given in the network performance improvement category by the European Commission at the SES awards ceremony on the occasion of the 2019 World ATM Conference in Madrid.

HKZP director-general Vlado Bagarić said that the project offered possibilities for choosing the shortest routes between central and southeast Europe, including traffic corridor towards Turkey and further to the Middle East.

"Airspace users will contribute to environmental protection by reducing fuel consumption and decreasing CO2 and NOx emissions with shorter flight times," Bagarić was quoted as saying.

"Potential per day savings could amount to 1,940 NM of flight distance, 285 minutes of flight time, with the fuel consumption reduction of 8,000 kg and CO2 emission reduction of 25,500 kg," Croatian Control says on its website.

The project contributes to achieving the European Commission’s goals regarding the implementation of Free Route Airspace across Europe and also fulfils airspace users’ requests for having multiple route options available for the same destination. The project, supported by the Eurocontrol’s Network Manager, led to creating one of the largest cross-border free route airspace structures in Europe, and is a major step towards achieving the common European Free Route Airspace by 2022.

Croatia Control is a state-owned limited liability company that operates in Croatia pursuant to relevant EU and national laws and regulations, adhering to the principles and procedures of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) and EUROCONTROL (European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation).

More news about air travel in Croatia can be found in the Travel section.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Government to Select Strategic Partner for Croatia Airlines

ZAGREB, February 21, 2019 - The procedure to choose a strategic partner for Croatia Airlines will be conducted by an interdepartmental commission to be tasked with considering further steps in finding an experienced air transport partner that would contribute to the future development and competitiveness of the national flag carrier, the Croatian government decided at a session on Thursday.

"The commission's main task is to consider further steps to be taken in order to find a quality strategic partner with significant experience in civilian aviation, who, among other things, would ensure the expansion of the airline's network and increase its market share. Special attention should be paid to the importance of regular, year-round domestic and international transport and the need for strong support for the further development of Croatia's tourism potential, as well as participation in the renewal of the company's fleet and its recapitalisation," said Transport Minister Oleg Butković.

The commission will propose the partner it chooses to the government in line with valid national and EU laws so as to secure that the majority ownership and management of the national flag carrier is in the hands of legal or physical persons from the EU, with the aim of maintaining the airline's operating licence.

In September 2018, a procedure was launched to procure financial consultancy services in elaborating a model for Croatia Airlines' recapitalisation and selection of the strategic partner. So far, there has been no information on possible applicants.

More news on Croatia Airlines can be found in the Travel section.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Direct Flights to Beijing Moving from Belgrade to Zagreb?

Croatian Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković met in Beijing with Chinese Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng. According to information from the ministry, the two officials discussed the co-operation between the two countries in the area of transport, including the possibility of introducing direct flights to Beijing from Croatia, reports Večernji List on January 22, 2019.

Butković informed Xiaopeng with projects currently being implemented by Croatia. The meeting highlighted the importance of the arrival of the Chinese cargo to the port of Rijeka. Another topic which was discussed was the introduction of flights to Beijing from Zagreb.

The topic of direct flights between China and Croatia has been discussed for a long time. China's ambassador to Croatia, Hu Zhaoming, has already spoken about the need for their introduction, and the topic again came to the forefront after a Chinese consortium won the tender to build the Pelješac Bridge.

Hainan Airlines is often mentioned as an airline that would introduce the flights. That would be the only direct link between China and the wider region. Until the end of last year, Hainan had twice a week flights from Beijing to Belgrade, but after a little more than a year it discontinued them due to the low number of passengers. On the other hand, during the first ten months of last year, 216,000 Chinese tourists visited Croatia, which was 43 per cent more than in the same period of 2017.

The meeting with the Chinese Transport Minister was the first in a series of meetings that the delegation of the Croatian Ministry of Transport, led by Minister Oleg Butković, will hold in China, where he will stay on an official visit until 26 January.

The visit to China of the Croatian delegation comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Transport, Croatian Railways, Croatian Roads and the Rijeka Port Authority, is part of the process of intensifying relations between the two countries and preparations for the upcoming summit of 16 Eastern and Central European Countries and China (Initiative 16 + 1), which Croatia will host later this year.

The Ministry stated that Butković informed his Chinese counterpart about the geostrategic position of Croatia and projects in the area of railway infrastructure. Li Xiaopeng said that the Chinese side supported their companies in taking part in tenders and complying with Croatia's regulations. He also said that the cooperation of the two countries in the field of infrastructure was just starting, and will continue to deepen with projects which are part of the Belt and Road initiative and China + 16.

More news on the cooperation between Croatia and China can be found in the Business section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Josip Bohutinski).

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