Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Plans for 10 Aircraft at Ryanair Zagreb Base, Says Airline’s CEO

June 8, 2021 - The latest flight news to Croatia as there are plans for 10 aircraft at the Ryanair Zagreb base, the airline's CEO recently announced. 

Ex Yu Aviation reports that Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair is planning to base up to 10 aircraft at Zagreb Airport. Recall, the airline will launch 15 routes to Zagreb this year. 

“As many as ten Boeing 737-800s could eventually be based at Zagreb. We started with two aircraft. Zagreb is the capital city … and remember, when we arrive in certain cities, they become [passenger] destinations," Ryanair CEO, David O’Brien, said for “Routes Digest”. The first jet will be stationed in Zagreb already this August, followed by a second in September and a third at the start of the winter schedule at the end of October. 

Ryanair will grow from the initial 15 routes to an eventual 40 and expects to carry around 3 million passengers annually. 

“We will grow exponentially in the years to come. The key for Zagreb is going to be the number of airports we have on offer in Europe. We made a bold decision to launch a base straight away. This shows our confidence in Zagreb. This will transform the city and we will become the largest airline in Zagreb and Croatia within a very short period of time," said Ryanair. 

The Irish low-cost airline landed at Zagreb Airport for the first time on Wednesday, June 2 from Charleroi Airport near Brussels. This line will be in traffic twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays, and from September 3, it will be intensified by the third flight a week, on Fridays.

Ryanair announced the base in Zagreb with 12 new lines. Three more were added later. 

The base in Zagreb will operate to Gothenburg, Rome ("Ciampino" airport), London ("Stansted" airport), Paris (Beuvais Airport), Dortmund, Dusseldorf (Niederrhein-Weeze Airport), Frankfurt (Hahn Airport), Karlsruhe, Memmingen, Malmö, Oslo (Sandefjord-Torp Airport) ") and Podgorica. 

Ryanair announced the Zagreb-Sofia flight as its 15th route to the capital city network last week, operating twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays from August 3.  

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Ryanair Zagreb-Sofia Flight Announced as Airline's 15th New Route to Capital!

June 4,  2021 - The latest flight news to Croatia as the Ryanair Zagreb-Sofia flight is the airline's 15th route to the capital city network.

Avio Radar reports that Europe's largest low-cost airline has announced a new route from Zagreb to Sofia. The line will run twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays from August 3, with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft from a base in Sofia. It will be the 15th new Ryanair line from Zagreb and the first direct line between Croatia and Bulgaria.

Ryanair Sales and Marketing Manager for Central, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, Olga Pawlonka, said:

"As vaccination programs continue in the coming months, and the summer season is just around the corner, we are pleased to announce this new route from Zagreb to Sofia that will be in traffic twice a week from August as part of our Croatian 2021 summer flight schedule.

Bearing in mind that restrictions change regularly due to COVID-19, customers can now book flights for a well-deserved vacation, knowing that if they need to postpone or change the travel date, they can do so by the end of December twice without a change fee."

The Irish low-cost airline landed at Zagreb Airport for the first time on Wednesday, June 2. The first arrival was on line number FR4982 from Charleroi Airport near Brussels. This line will be in traffic twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays, and from September 3, it will be intensified by the third flight a week, on Fridays. On the first flight was a Boeing 737-800 aircraft with registration number EI-EVP with 67 passengers arriving. There were 40 passengers on the return.

Ryanair announced a base in Zagreb with 12 new lines. Two more were added later. From June 17, traffic will start on the line from the base at Bergamo Airport near Milan with four flights a week, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Traffic from the base in Zagreb will start on July 23, with the first departure from Zagreb on the line to Gothenburg. On the same day, the plan is to start traffic on the routes to Rome ("Ciampino" airport) and London ("Stansted" airport). Other 9 lines to: Paris (Beuvais Airport), Dortmund, Dusseldorf (Niederrhein-Weeze Airport), Frankfurt (Hahn Airport), Karlsruhe, Memmingen, Malmö, Oslo (Sandefjord-Torp Airport) ") and Podgorica are scheduled for September 1. 

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Ryanair's first flight to Zagreb, tickets from €20

ZAGREB, 3 June 2021 - Irish Ryanair on Wednesday started operating a new route between Zagreb and Brussels Charleroi, which is scheduled twice a week, and the same airline announced the launch of several other flights from Zagreb, with ticket prices from €19.99, Zagreb Airport (MZLZ) has said.

The flight to Milan Bergamo launches on 17 June, and the flights to Gothenburg, London Stansted, and Rome Ciampino will be available from 23 July, when the first Ryanair airplane will be based in Zagreb.

The full Ryanair flight schedule from Zagreb for summer 2021 will be available from September, when the second airplane will be based in Zagreb and nine new routes will open to Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, and Montenegro.

Ryanair's Sales and Marketing Manager for Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, Olga Pawlonka, said that she was pleased that her company had officially marked the first flight for Zagreb on the Brussels Charleroi route.

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Ryanair Zagreb Base Expects 2-3 Million Passengers Over Next Three Years, Capital in High Demand

May 15, 2021 - The Ryanair Zagreb base expects two to three million passengers over the next three years, and will open the Zagreb base earlier than planned due to great interest and demand, the company's commercial director Jason McGuinness revealed. 

McGuinness says that Ryanair decided to open the Zagreb base two months earlier than originally planned due to many reservations and requests from Zagreb and the high demand for flights to Zagreb, reports Index.hr.

At the Ryanair Zagreb base, which opens at the end of July, the airline will have one aircraft by the end of August, and plans to introduce another in September, says McGuinness.

He also reveals that following the demand; the airline is considering the possibility of introducing a third aircraft during the winter if reservations show good results because it plans flights to Zagreb all year round and already has 14 destinations planned from Zagreb from November this year. By the summer of 2022, there are plans for about 30.

"I will not give you information on reservations by individual routes, but I will repeat what I emphasized at the press conference at the end of March when we announced our arrival: Zagreb has been underrepresented for years. For example, Zagreb and Dublin are cities of similar size. Still, before the arrival of Ryanair, Zagreb had flights to 38 destinations, and Dublin to about 200, and Zagreb is much more beautiful and interesting than Dublin," McGuinness said about the state of reservations and sales of flights to Zagreb.

He says that he is surprised by the bookings from Zagreb. However, expectations this year are still conditioned by the pandemic and travel restrictions. There is a lot of competition for flights to sunny destinations such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Croatia.

He adds that Ryanair will not operate traffic to Zagreb only with "Zagreb" planes because it has 450 planes and can fly to Zagreb from the other 80 bases throughout Europe.

When asked how long they intend to have a base in Zagreb, he answered that they see great potential in Zagreb and that it will dedicate itself to its own and the growth of Zagreb Airport.

"We will follow developments and decide on routes, where costs are one of the main points in our decisions. We are the company with the lowest low-cost price in Europe, and we are so precisely because of our primary cost orientation. We work with partners on efficient operation, and it is the costs that determine our future decisions," says McGuinness.

As previously announced, they will need about 60 workers at the Ryanair Zagreb base. McGuinness explains that each aircraft needs about 30 people to service it, from pilots and cabin crew to engineers and support.

When asked if they will look for these employees on the local market or bring them from other countries, he said that they already have many pilots and cabin crew from Croatia and a lot of people who would like to live in Croatia because of the climate.

"We work in about 40 countries at 230 airports and have workers of various nationalities. For example, members of about 30 nationalities work in our base in Dublin. In Zagreb and Zadar, where we will also have a base this summer, people from Zagreb and Zadar, but also from other countries that want to live and work in Croatia," says McGuinness.

Apart from employing themselves, he points out that we should not forget the indirect jobs that their flights bring to a destination, i.e., the benefits that taxi services, buses, catering, hotels, and others have from passengers.

The situation is similar with Zadar, where they will have two planes at the base during the summer season this year, for which, as in Zagreb, they are investing 200 million euros.

Asked how he would invest given the losses he, like many other companies, has in the pandemic, McGuinness said it should be "put in context."

"In the past two months, Ryanair has opened ten new bases in Paris, Venice, the Greek islands, Denmark, Riga in Latvia, and Stockholm's Arland. You know we are the strongest company in Europe, and we don't get help from the state and funds, as is the case with other companies, including Croatian Airlines. We do not receive such assistance, and we have the strongest balance sheet in Europe, and we have merged the strongest airlines. We are the only European company that has achieved growth in air traffic over several years. We see that, for example, Croatia Airlines has postponed the purchase of new aircraft, while Ryanair has confirmed orders for 210 new Boeing 200 aircraft, which are the strongest in that class," McGuinness says.

Regarding the purchase of new aircraft, he says he will take them over in the next four years, increasing the fleet to more than 600 aircraft, which they plan to carry about 200 million passengers a year.

To achieve this and overcome pandemic and other challenges, he is currently working with partners across Europe to find opportunities for recovery, which he considers very important.

"We are doing this in Croatia, where we have been flying since 2006, which means that this year we have our 15th anniversary, during which we transported about five million passengers to and from Croatia, which we are very pleased with. We also know how important tourism is to the Croatian economy and that it makes up about 20 percent of the national GDP. In cooperation with the airports in Zagreb and Zadar and others, we also bring investments. We consider this to be the right way in which we can help recover traffic at this time," says Ryanair’s commercial director.

Apart from Zadar and Zagreb, this summer, they will also fly to Pula, i.e., they will have 58 routes to Croatia, of which 33 are new.

There are a couple of routes to Dubrovnik and Split, but as the fees at the airports in those cities are too high for them, he says that they are talking to partners about further conditions and that it is unlikely that an agreement will be reached.

When asked if they are satisfied with the agreement reached with Zagreb Airport, he said only that "agreements can always be better," that they are committed to Zagreb, but also that their focus is always on price.

"Ryanair is quite an opportunistic company, and there are a lot of places we don't fly to, and people ask why. According to our conditions, we have many places where we could place our capacities and where there is a market gap for us, and one of them was Zagreb. I am happy that we have reached an agreement and that we will fly to Zagreb and set up our base there earlier than planned," McGuinness says.

In the region closer to Croatia, they introduce innovations this year, such as two flights to Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They also operate in Banja Luka and Podgorica in Montenegro and Nis in Serbia.

They are satisfied with the business in the Balkans and hope that they will continue to grow there as well, while they have the largest base closer to Croatia, and otherwise the largest, in Italy with 70 aircraft.

They also operate in Hungary, Greece, Israel, and Cyprus.

On the company’s business as a low-cost carrier, McGuinness says only one model is suitable for airlines and good business, and that is low cost.

"I repeat that we are the strongest airline in Europe and that we do not receive state aid for our investments, including the purchase of new aircraft, which we consider extremely important in a situation where companies across Europe have received around 30 billion euros in aid since the pandemic. It is illegal. and we really appeal and challenge because this situation can destroy the market, which is bad for consumers, and it can destroy competition. We will continue to fight for consumers across Europe and 'challenge' all these illegal actions in the courts across Europe," comments McGuinness.

Despite everything, and unlike many companies that have received grants, their prices remain extremely low throughout Europe.

When asked about the owners of Ryanair, he states that the public companies are listed on the London, Dublin, and New York Stock Exchanges, which have many shareholders around the world, mostly large institutional funds, institutions, and others.

He says that flights and trips on their planes during the pandemic are safe in every sense, including health, because safety is their priority.

"Aircraft are disinfected every 24 hours, everyone who has to be around and in the aircraft pays attention to health safety measures following international rules, and the air quality in the aircraft is like in the operating room. Therefore, all available seats can be booked in on the plane, and passengers and staff must wear masks," McGuinness emphasizes.

He also considers EU Covid passports to be a good idea, which will make travel easier for people from this summer, and Ryanair has already made its so-called covid-wallet or passport, in which all the necessary information can be entered via the application and the website about testing, proof of vaccination and the like.

Asked to comment on Croatia Airlines' complaints, McGuinness said it was inappropriate to complain at all, as they had "received millions of euros," in his opinion, of illegal state aid.

"The fact is that Croatia Airlines has not achieved growth and profit in the past four years. Ryanair will bring 14 new routes to Zagreb this year, and Croatia Airlines has brought three in the past four years. We think Croatia Airlines must do its homework again and new calculations," comments McGuinness.

When asked if Croatia Airlines is their competition in Croatia and how they generally deal with competitors, he reiterated that they operate in 40 countries, concluding that they always consider competition good for consumers, airports, and Ryanair, as well as for Croatia, Zagreb, its airport and the people of Zagreb.

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Two New Ryanair Flights to Zagreb Announced from September!

May 11, 2021 - The latest flight news to Croatia as two new Ryanair flights to Zagreb have been announced from September! 

Croatian Aviation reports that Ryanair released tickets for two more new routes to Zagreb Airport today!

As previously announced, the Irish low-cost airline will open a base at Zagreb Airport from September this year.

In addition to the already announced, 12 new lines, Ryanair will operate directly to two more destinations from Zagreb from September.

From September 4, the Zagreb - Malmo - Zagreb line will be introduced, which will be in traffic twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

From the same date, the Zagreb - Dusseldorf Weeze - Zagreb line will be introduced, which will also operate twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Tickets for these two new routes are already on sale on the airline's official website, and these lines will also operate in the winter flight schedule. According to the latest announcements, Ryanair will have as many as 14 international routes from Zagreb Airport from the beginning of September, leaving the possibility of introducing additional lines until the start of operations and the opening of the base in September.

Already this autumn, Ryanair will perform weekly flights from Zagreb Airport to the following destinations:

Brussels Charleroi, from June 2, 3 times a week,

Dortmund, from September 3, 2 times a week,

Frankfurt-Hahn, from September 3, 3 times a week,

Gothenburg, from September 3, 3 times a week,

Karlsruhe, from September 2, 2 times a week,

London, from September 1, daily,

Memmingen, from September 3, 2 times a week,

Milan, from July 1, 4 times a week,

Paris, from September 2, 2 times a week,

Podgorica, from September 4, 2 times a week,

Rome, from September 3, 3 times a week,

Torp Sandefjord, from September 1, 2 times a week.

The company has more than 430 B737-800 aircraft in the fleet, with a capacity of 189 seats. The average age of Ryanair aircraft is only 8 years.

Ryanair has been operating in Croatia since 2006. By June 2019, the company had transported 4 million passengers to and from Croatia.

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Travel Hungry Foreigners Go Crazy for Cheaper Ryanair Zagreb Flights

May the 5th, 2021 - The news of Ryanair Zagreb flights has been met with a cheer from travellers who will now no longer need to rely on the often unreasonably expensive Croatia Airlines flights to the Croatian capital, especially given the fact that British Airways still hasn't made its return between the European capitals of London and Zagreb.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, Zagreb has been on Ryanair's wish list for years now, and the new incentives of Zagreb International Airport for the arrival of new low-budget operators to the Croatian capital were an opportunity for this well-known and wildly popular Irish company to open a base in Zagreb, which we have reported on extensively.

"The first line starts operating in June, and the Zagreb base will be operational from September. We plan to base two aircraft, the A320 aircraft of our partner company Laude. We're extremely satisfied with the booking on all lines to and from Zagreb. What's interesting is that as much as 90 percent of these bookings are made by foreigners, with the top three countries being Belgium, Sweden and Italy. Only 10 percent of the total booking is made up of passengers from Croatia. In addition, 70 percent of the reserved tickets refer to a planned period of stay in Zagreb which is shorter than four days, which justifies our claim about Zagreb being a city break destination,'' they said from Ryanair.

They added that by the summer of 2022, they plan to have about 40 flights from Zagreb, and one of them could be to Dublin, which is a popular tourist and business centre for many Croats. Ryanair still plans to have a seasonal base in the Dalmatian city of Zadar, where it will now base two aircraft instead of the previous one plane, and open a number of new routes. Currently, the most significant bookings towards Zadar come from the markets of Poland, Sweden and Germany.

Seasonal routes to Pula, Split and Dubrovnik are set to continue, which means that the largest European airline will fly to five Croatian cities this summer season. Although in the previous period they flew to Rijeka and Osijek, so far they have no plans with these two destinations.

The Ryanair Zagreb flights have delighted many who want to see the capital's tourism picture changed and have much cheaper access to travel to other European cities without having to pay an extortionate amount for very little.

For more, follow our travel section.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Could Ryanair Find Croatia Airlines Incentive Payments Problematic?

April the 17th, 2021 - Croatia Airlines has already been dealt a significant blow by Ryanair arriving in Zagreb, but will Croatia Airlines incentive payments, which it has been being paid since long before the coronavirus crisis also pose an issue for the Irish carrier? It seems it could indeed.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, although the EU Court of Justice recently approved the incentives given by Finland, Denmark and Sweden to their respective air operators, Ryanair said it would appeal the ruling because it runs counter to the principles of the European Union and the free market.

This largest European airline, which is based in Ireland and operates throughout Europe and carried 152 million passengers in pre-pandemic 2019, explained that the Finnish Government has approved a loan of 600 million euros to Finnair, and the overall incentives for this carrier since the beginning of the crisis have now reached a whopping 1.2 billion euros.

The Danish and Swedish governments have respectively given a loan guarantee to SAS of 132m euros, bringing the total aid paid out to the company to over 1.3 billion euros in the last year alone.

Although Ryanair doesn't specifically mention Croatia, the fact is that Croatia Airlines incentive payments stood at around 1 billion kuna over the last 1.5 years alone (around 132 million euros) through several models of assistance, and as the Irish carrier has ambitious plans in Croatia, especially in Zagreb, where one of its main competitors is CA. Owing to that, it is possible that soon there will be questions asked and issues raised.

According to Ryanair's calculations, EU countries have granted a total of 30 billion euros in incentives to their national operators during the coronavirus crisis - The Lufthansa Group received a total of 11 billion euros in this period, as did Air France and multiple others. There are also Norwegian with 800 million, LOT with 650 million and Condor and Air Europa with 600 million euros of state incentives each.

Ryanair pointed out that although the ongoing coronavirus crisis has damaged all airlines that contribute to the economies and connectivity of Finland, Denmark and Sweden, the governments of those countries have decided to support only their carriers. Ryanair asked EU judicial and regulatory bodies to review these incentives as early as back in mid-2020, and they're also announcing an appeal against yesterday’s European Court ruling.

"One of the EU's greatest achievements is the creation of a true single market for air transport. The European Commission's approvals for Finnish, Danish and Swedish state aid were contrary to the fundamental principles of EU law.

These judgments establish a process of liberalisation in air transport back 30 years, allowing Finland, Denmark and Sweden to give their national carriers an advantage over more efficient competitors, based solely on nationality. We'll now ask the Court of Justice to abolish these unfair subsidies in the interests of competition and consumers.

If Europe is to emerge from this crisis with a functioning single market, airlines must be allowed to compete on a level playing field. Undistorted competition can eradicate inefficiency and benefit consumers with low prices and choice,'' they stated from Ryanair, indicating that Croatia Airlines incentive payments could indeed pose a problem.

It's worth noting that this week Croatia Airlines also complained about the conditions and incentives that Ryanair received in its new base in Zagreb from the concessionaire of the Zagreb International Airport (MZLZ).

CA said that they, as the largest long-term user of Franjo Tudjman Airport's services with more than a 50 percent share of its annual passenger traffic, are asking the concessionaire at the MZLZ airport to harmonise the agreed conditions of airport services with better commercial conditions than those received by the new competitor in Zagreb, Ryanair.

For more on travel to Croatia, make sure to check out our dedicated section.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Croatia Airlines Looking for Ryanair Agreement at Zagreb Airport

April 13, 2021 - As the largest long-term user of MZLZ services with more than a 50 percent share of its annual passenger traffic, Croatia Airlines is looking for the same terms as the new competitor, Ryanair. A look at the Ryanair agreement at Zagreb Airport and why Croatia Airlines wants in.

Following the announcement of the Ryanair base opening at Zagreb Airport (MZLZ), Croatia Airlines, as the largest user of MZLZ services, has asked its partner to harmonize the agreed terms of service with the terms offered to Ryanair, reports HRTurizam.

After Zagreb International Airport and Ryanair announced the opening of the Irish airline base in Zagreb on March 30, Croatia Airlines, as the largest long-term user of MZLZ services with more than a 50 percent share of its annual passenger traffic, asks its partners to align the agreed terms of airport services with better commercial terms than those obtained by a new competitor in Zagreb, Ryanair.

"Passengers and the Croatian public have the right to competitive prices and complete and objective information. It is inadmissible for the national airline to finance the entry of new competitors on the Croatian market," emphasize Croatia Airlines and point out that they expect that better conditions for Croatia Airlines will be agreed upon in upcoming meetings.

A large number of strong competitors is a market reality that Croatia Airlines (CA) has been facing in its operations since its establishment, and there is really nothing controversial in that, CA said in a statement but pointed out that it is unacceptable for a national airline to finance new entrants.

“Specifically, under the terms offered to Ryanair, the national airline Croatia Airlines would pay HRK 135,384,105 less than the amounts actually paid in 2019, which would mean that the company, instead of the reported net loss of around HRK 80 million, would report a net profit of more than HRK 55 million that year," CA said, adding that the terms offered to Ryanair are in line with information from the MZL Zagreb website, which includes the recently published Growth Incentive Model, which was a prerequisite for the arrival of Ryanair.

Namely, the mentioned Traffic Growth Incentive Model explicitly states that the existing routes are defined (according to the IATA code) in Appendix A of this document. All other routes that are not listed in that appendix are considered non-existent.

“It is interesting to note that the IATA codes mentioned refer to airports and not to locations, i.e., regions and cities in which they are located, thus camouflaging the intention of MZLZ to install new carriers on the same markets without hindrance, which directly benefits from more favorable conditions. Therefore, the incentive model camouflages Ryanair's announced traffic to destinations to which Croatia Airlines (and other carriers) also fly," CA said.

As the MZLZ offer has not yet been received despite the urgent reaction of Croatia Airlines and the meeting, Croatia Airlines is aware of the existing legislation and warns the Croatian public of distorting equal market competition and potentially harmful effects due to obvious interests.

For effective market competition among entrepreneurs in certain markets, it is necessary to ensure equal access to and survival in the market, which is achieved through domestic and international legislation, especially at the European Union level. The relevant market, in this case, is the cities and regions, routes, and destinations to be flown, which are part of Ryanair's announcement: Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Paris and Rome, Milan, Munich, and Oslo). Croatia Airlines has independently developed and invested in all of the above markets for years and in some for decades.

“We appreciate the efforts of MZLZ to ensure new turnover, but only based on impartiality, the same regulated conditions for all companies and without benefits. At the same time, we expect that MZLZ will meet Croatia Airlines' needs in the same way and that the conditions will be harmonized with those achieved by Ryanair, taking into account the number of routes and transported passengers. Failure to approve the same, or even greater discounts to Croatia Airlines about the amount of traffic and the number of destinations, endangers equal competition and knowingly inflicts direct damage on the national airline that is majority-owned by the Republic of Croatia," point out Croatia Airlines, adding that according to available information, and given that Croatia Airlines in 2020 achieved a market share in the total turnover of MZLZ of 62 percent of transported passengers, Croatia Airlines does not consider it necessary to finance its competition and expects to reach an agreement as soon as possible with MZLZ on better commercial conditions, to provide the Croatian public and its passengers with what they rightly expect.

CA also points out that during the entire pandemic, it did not interrupt traffic at any time, unlike all other airlines that disappeared from the Croatian market in extraordinary circumstances (March 2020). After operating only one flight per day from the beginning of April to the beginning of May 2020 (Zagreb - Frankfurt - Zagreb), the national airline invested in the gradual renewal of traffic by increasing the number of destinations and frequencies following market demand.

In the end, Croatia Airlines reminds that from 2016-2019; they opened ten completely new destinations from Zagreb (St. Petersburg, Lisbon, Bucharest, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, Dublin, Prague, Milan, Mostar), for which they received a total of HRK 1,459,521 in incentives from MZL Zagreb. For twelve routes, of which most are not new, Ryanair annually received 30 times the incentives.

Also, Ryanair announced the opening of its base in Zagreb with only two aircraft. Simultaneously, the national airline owns 6 to 7 times more, or 12 to 14 based aircraft that have been flying successfully for decades, adhering to the highest safety and professional standards, concluded CA. 

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from March 29 to April 4, 2021

April 4, 2021 - From new epidemiological measures imposed due to the increase in COVID-19 infections to the arrival of Ryanair, here are TCN's five highlights of the week, recapping the big events in Croatia from March 29 to April 4, 2021.

At the end of March, the fight against the pandemic was in its final stages, taking into account the government's efforts to promote the return of the tourist season, the reopening of business in the country, and the announcement of mass vaccinations in Zagreb after Easter. Despite this, the novel coronavirus has once again warned that its presence continues to threaten the population, and this has since manifested in the increase in cases across the country. On the other hand, sporting and cultural events have also stood out as we entered a new month this week.

Croatia U-21 reaches the EURO Tournament Quarterfinals

The eyes were not only all firmly on the senior team, who, after starting the qualifying process with an away loss against Slovenia, got back on track with six points against Cyprus and Malta in Rijeka. Luka Modric also became the most capped player in the history of the Croatian National Team.

Some good news also came for those who follow the younger generations, as the U-21 team won their ticket to the quarter-finals of the EURO tournament in a dramatic fashion. Those led by Igor Biscan failed to win the match, but a Bradaric goal in injury time allowed Croatia to climb to second place, thanks to the other teams' results and goal difference. 

Now, the little Vatreni will have to face Spain on May 31.

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Koper, Slovenia (Credit: PIXSELL)

Ryanair announces flights to Croatia

After several years in which the Zagreb International Airport was in deficit in terms of both airlines and low-cost flights, it finally reached an agreement with the well-known Irish low-cost company Ryanair. This agreement was announced through a virtual press conference, in which it was detailed that the capital of Croatia will now be connected to European cities such as Paris, Brussels, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Memmingen, Milan, Rome, Podgorica, Oslo, Gothenburg, and London.

Zagreb wasn't the only city to rejoice with this news, as the airline also confirmed 17 new flights to Zadar International Airport in a separate conference, and passengers will be able to choose from a wide variety of European destinations from July 2021. While many still believe this news might affect the future of Croatia Airlines, others including the company itself assure that the regional base establishment of the popular airline in Zagreb will not only create more jobs but also transform the capital's tourism.

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Credits: Pixabay

The Prime Minister reveals the National Recovery Plan

After a cabinet meeting which was held last Thursday, PM Andrej Plenkovic announced through a press conference all the details surrounding the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which aims to reform and transform the country in regard to several different issues such as healthcare, employment, education, science and research, infrastructure, and more. The estimated investment would stand at 18 million kuna and the objective is to carry out these reforms within five years, more precisely between 2021 and 2026.

Plenkovic added that the plan consists of modernising scientific research and educational systems, increasing the quality of the healthcare and pension systems, improving employability through a more efficient programme, and carrying out the reconstruction and structural renovation of numerous homes and buildings in the country, in such a way that they are not only better prepared in case of natural disasters, but that they're also more adapted to the most recent demands for energy efficiency.

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Zagreb (Credits: PIXSELL)

The traditional Za Krizen Procession was held on Jelsa

Despite the reduced capacity of followers and pilgrims this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the island of Hvar celebrated its 2021 edition of its traditional Za Krizen (Behind the Cross) procession in the town of Jelsa, inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage since 2009. TCN covered an event that usually gathers thousands of people around the island as they follow the carriers, but this year had to settle with only the participants and few witnesses in the streets.

The overnight processions were held in the towns of Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj, and Vrboska. The event started simultaneously in the six towns at 22:00 pm as the habitants have done for centuries, and ended at the main square.

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Jelsa (Credit: PIXSELL)

The measures against COVID-19 are tightened due to the large increase in cases

A month ago, all the cafes, bars, and restaurants in the country were reopened, after many weeks without serving their loyal customers, as an extreme measure to combat the virus. The condition was to serve only outdoors on the terraces and with a limited capacity. The streets were filled with life and joy again. However, one month later, the numbers have dramatically increased and although it is unlikely that a complete lockdown will be imposed again, the government has announced that new measures will take place in order to reduce the infections and it will last until 15 April, before being reviewed again.

In Split-Dalmatia County, for instance, which has seen a big increase in new infections, the mandatory wearing of face masks at outdoor venues with an increased flow of people will be introduced, as will a ban on the sale of alcohol from 8 pm to 6 am. The work of cafes will be restricted until 8 pm, and it will be possible to serve food and drinks only in the open. Foreign language schools will switch to online classes again.

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Split (Credit: PIXSELL)

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Thursday, 1 April 2021

How Will Croatia Airlines Survive Ryanair Zagreb Arrival?

April the 1st, 2021 - The Ryanair Zagreb arrival was recently finally confirmed following months of speculation, and while this is absolutely fantastic news for the Croatian capital and for the Irish company itself, what will happen with an already enfeebled Croatia Airlines and the frequent accusations it faces of being too expensive?

As someone who lives in Zagreb and travels twice per year to the United Kingdom, more precisely to London, I was dreading having to pay Croatia Airlines prices as British Airways, which was far cheaper, still hasn't returned on this route as a result of the pandemic. With Ryanair now firmly on its way, I have zero doubts that many will be thinking the same as I am.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, although it is neither the first nor is it the largest company, the wildly popular Irish low-budget airline Ryanair has become synonymous across Europe for its ultra cheap flights and is more or less always first option for young people, as well as for many business people who need to travel a lot.

In addition, Ryanair has been present in Croatia since the mid-2000s, but their announcement that it will open its regional base in Zagreb still resonated like a bomb in domestic business and within tourism circles who are anticipating the Ryanair Zagreb arrival with gritted teeth and tight jaws.

While many people in Croatia and Europe are happy to rub their hands together because they will have the opportunity to, with good and long-term planning, travel to another European capital such as London for about 50 euros or less, the question is how their arrival in the Croatian capital will affect Croatia Airlines, which really didn't need the Ryanair Zagreb arrival to add to its already overflowing heap of problems.

Aviation analyst Gojko Mavrinac, the editor-in-chief of the Croatianaviation portal, pointed out that, in addition to Ryanair deciding to introduce routes to the same European cities as Croatia Airlines (Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, Brussels, London, Paris), it will definitely take a huge percentage of national passengers from the national carrier and deal it another enormous blow.

"Croatia Airlines should react promptly to the Ryanair Zagreb arrival, but the fact is that Croatia Airlines cannot enter the fight at all, primarily because of its prices, with such a large airline. Ryanair has entered the main Croatia Airlines base where it plans to expand its business and Croatia Airlines is now in an almost hopeless situation, I hope they all sat down at the table in Buzin yesterday and are continuing to try to find a solution,'' warned Mavrinac.

He added that passengers are looking for cheap tickets today and Ryanair will offer precisely that in Zagreb and thus take a large "part of the cake" from the continually burdened Croatia Airlines, which financially cannot even enter the ring against this European giant.

"A radical change of business is needed for the company to survive in the capital now that the Ryanair Zagreb arrival has been confirmed, which, in the summer of 2022 plans to have routes to as many as 40 destinations from the Croatian capital, far more than CA ever had even in normal circumstances back in 2019," said Gojko Mavrinac.

Croatia Airlines commented that there is no doubt that the announced flights of the Irish airline from the Franjo Tudjman International Airport in Zagreb will be a direct and additional competition to the national airline.

“CA will adapt its business to the new market circumstances in as much as is possible. It should be noted that part of the newly announced routes refers to flights to secondary airports in destinations to which the national airline regularly flies to primary airports, ie major European transport hubs (Brussels, Frankfurt, Rome, London, Paris) throughout the year, thus continuously providing Croatia's air connections with the rest of the world,'' they stated from the Croatian national airline.

An enormous injection for the capital's tourism

Although the deal was probably agreed before the Ryanair Zagreb announcement came, the second largest Croatian airline, the private TradeAir, announced recently that it plans to take over the fifth aircraft for its fleet soon. According to avioradar.hr, it is an Airbus319 that will join the Fokker F-100 and three Airbus A320.

TradeAir owner Marko Cvijin says an engagement has already been arranged for their fifth aircraft. The Ryanair Zagreb arrival will breathe new life into Zagreb's tourism, which fell by a concerning 76 percent last year due to the coronavirus crisis and the earthquake, as evidenced by the figures presented recently which showcase about 340,000 guest arrivals and 770,000 overnight stays throughout all of 2020.

In the run-up to the record year which was 2019, Zagreb had 1.3 million arrivals and 2.4 million overnight stays. Simultaneously with the announcements of arriving in Zagreb, Ryanair announced the continuation of operations for Zadar, where it has had a base in the summer season for years, and the increase of the existing 20 routes with another 17.

For all current coronavirus information specific to Croatia, including border and travel rules, as well as testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark this page.

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