Thursday, 11 March 2021

Nordwind Flights from Moscow to Zagreb begin March 19!

March 11, 2021 - The latest flight news to Croatia: Nordwind flights from Moscow to Zagreb will commence on March 19, 2021! 

Croatian Aviation reports that from March 19, Russian low-cost and leisure airline Nordwind Airlines will operate regularly between Moscow and Zagreb.

The Russian airline intended to launch a regular line between Moscow (Sheremetyevo Airport) and Zagreb in October 2020, but due to the global pandemic and travel ban between Russia and Croatia, they postponed its plan until this year. 

Regular operations will still take place, starting on March 19, when Nordwind will operate its first flight on this line. In the reservation calendar, only one weekly flight is available on this route, every Friday, and it will be operated by Pegas Fly aircraft of the E190 type with a capacity of 110 passengers in the classic 2-2 configuration.

The company originally planned three weekly flights on this route, but it is only available for booking one flight a week.

There have been no direct flights between Croatia and Russia since March 2020, i.e., or when travel was stopped due to the global pandemic.

However, even before Nordwind, the national carrier - Aeroflot - will land in Zagreb.

As announced earlier, Aeroflot will resume traffic between Moscow and Zagreb from Thursday, March 11, almost a year after they suspended flights to Croatia. An A320 aircraft has been announced for the inaugural flight to Zagreb, carrying 50 passengers from Moscow to Zagreb. From Thursday, April 29, Aeroflot offers daily flights between the two cities with A320 aircraft.

From June 1, Aeroflot should operate on the Moscow-Split-Moscow route again, also daily in the summer flight schedule. As in previous years, Aeroflot will use a larger aircraft on this route - A321. 

The company also plans to re-establish the Moscow-Dubrovnik-Moscow route in the upcoming summer flight schedule, but the schedule has not yet been confirmed and tickets on this route are not yet on sale on the company's official website.

A positive surprise could be a Moscow-Pula-Moscow line, but Pula airport confirmed that negotiations are currently underway and that they hope that Russia's national carrier will decide to establish a line to and from Pula this summer. 

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Thursday, 4 March 2021

More Delays to the Capital: Iberia Postpones Flights from Madrid to Zagreb

March 4, 2021 - After TAP Portugal delayed the start of operations between Lisbon and Zagreb, Spanish national airline Iberia has postponed the start of flights from Madrid to Zagreb.

Croatian Aviation reports that Iberia and TAP Portugal have postponed the start of traffic on their lines to Zagreb. Obviously, the growth of passenger demand is not expected, which is logical given all the current restrictive measures and recommendations not to travel to other countries to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Iberia planned to resume traffic to Zagreb from Madrid as early as the first day of the summer flight schedule (March 28), but this will no longer happen. All announced flights for March and April have been canceled, and the first flights on this route are now announced from May 1. As a reminder, Iberia did not operate on this line in the summer season of 2020 due to the pandemic. Iberia plans to fly to Dubrovnik from March 28 and has not canceled certain departures to Dubrovnik as of yet.

Recall, TAP Portugal has also postponed the start of traffic from Lisbon to Zagreb. The line was supposed to operate from the first day of the flight schedule (March 28), but it has been postponed until June due to weak demand. The first flight between Lisbon and Zagreb has now been announced for June 2. Flights to Zagreb will operate three times a week, on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

The delay in the start of operations of two well-known carriers is not surprising, as the same is being done by many other airlines not only to Zagreb but also to the coastal Croatian airports. The reality is that Croatia will probably only have an adequate number of weekly flights to a number of European destinations during the peak summer season; when the pandemic subsides again and the current passenger restrictions between countries are lifted.

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Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Lufthansa Cancels All Flights from Munich to Zagreb, Croatia Airlines to Run Daily Service

March 3, 2021 - Despite the announcements, Lufthansa has canceled all flights from Munich to Zagreb this summer. 

Croatian Aviation reports that just two weeks ago, Lufthansa announced plans to fly to several destinations in Croatia in the summer flight schedule, including two routes to Zagreb, from Frankfurt and Munich.

Lufthansa suspended the Frankfurt - Zagreb route in March 2020, after the pandemic outbreak, and has not operated on it for a year. Under the current flight schedule, the airline was to resume traffic on this route with the start of the summer flight schedule effective March 28. But that will no longer happen. 

Lufthansa suspended traffic on the Munich - Zagreb route on December 1, and because Croatia Airlines has not operated on it for a long time, Zagreb Airport has been without a direct line with the Bavarian capital for 3 months.

Many Lufthansa lines from Munich are currently suspended, as the airline has decided to keep its wide network of destinations mainly from the hub in Frankfurt. Thus, a larger number of lines are available from that German city to keep Frankfurt's functionality as a big "hub."

Croatia Airlines has not yet confirmed its summer flight schedule. Still, in the current reservation calendar, it is possible to buy tickets for a direct flight between Zagreb and Munich from the first day of the summer flight schedule (March 28, 2021). Flights are available daily, in the morning or evening, depending on the date of travel, throughout the summer, which is a significant reduction in capacity and number of flights, given that Croatia Airlines had two daily flights on this route in the summer of 2019. If Croatia Airlines stays with the current schedule, it will have no competition on the route to Munich this summer, which is certainly good news for the Croatian carrier.

From Sunday, May 2, Croatia Airlines plans to re-establish the Rijeka - Munich route with three flights a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday), and the Dubrovnik - Munich route with two flights a week (Friday, Sunday). The Split - Munich line has been in operation since May 2020 and will continue to operate in the upcoming summer season.

Lufthansa also plans to connect Munich and Frankfurt with Croatia's coastal airports from the beginning of the summer flight schedule, which should be finalized in mid-March. However, there is still a great possibility of reductions.

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Tuesday, 2 March 2021

TAP Portugal Delays Flights from Lisbon to Zagreb until June

March 2, 2021 - The latest news for flights to Croatia as TAP Portugal delays flights from Lisbon to Zagreb until June.

As we previously reported, Portuguese national airline TAP will operate on the direct line Lisbon-Zagreb this year, but not as early as originally planned. 

Namely, the two capitals were to be connected from the first day of the summer flight schedule (Sunday, March 28), and on a planned 94 return flights in the summer flight schedule, the airline was to offer more than 32,700 seats between the two cities.

However, Ex Yu Aviation reports that the Portuguese airline has delayed the new seasonal service until June 2. 

Three flights a week have been announced, on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, with afternoon departures from Zagreb Airport. On all flights to Zagreb, A320 aircraft (previously planned and smaller A319) with a capacity of 174 passengers have been announced.

As a reminder, TAP Portugal connected Zagreb and Lisbon in the past, but the line was suspended in the spring of 2016. In the winter flight schedule, the flight between Zagreb and Lisbon had a stop in Bologna.

Returning to Zagreb in the spring of 2021, TAP Portugal wants to regain its position on the Croatian market, counting on Croatia Airlines not to resume traffic on its seasonal route between the two mentioned cities. Given that the Croatian national airline is unlikely to operate on this route in this year's summer flight schedule (as it did not operate even in the summer of 2020), TAP Portugal will not have direct competition on the route between the capitals of Portugal and Croatia.

This is a very welcome return of another large airline to Zagreb Airport, which has not been present at Croatian airports for almost 5 years. It is currently possible to buy return tickets on this line for less than 130 euros. In addition to passengers who can choose the direct line between Zagreb and Lisbon, TAP Portugal is counting on a larger number of transfer passengers, primarily from the United States, who will have an excellent connection to and from Zagreb with the introduction of this line.

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Monday, 1 March 2021

Zagreb Airport Rated Best in Europe in 2020 for 3rd Consecutive Year

March 1, 2021 – In the category of two to five million passengers a year, Zagreb Airport rated best in Europe in 2020, according to the passenger satisfaction survey.

As Zagreb International Airport reports, despite challenging times reflected in a significant reduction in passenger numbers and air operations, passengers and users of Franjo Tuđman Airport services awarded the airport with high marks for the third consecutive year. Through a regular survey of the quality of ACI/ASQ (Airports Council International/Airport Service Quality) services, Zagreb Airport was named the best airport in Europe in the group of airports of two to five million passengers per year (Best Airport in Europe by Size and Region) in 2020.

'Significant efforts in these demanding circumstances have been recognized'

This recognition comes from a survey of the airport services quality conducted in 2020, which will remain recorded as the most difficult and demanding year in the history of aviation. This year was also challenging for Zagreb Airport due to the earthquakes in Zagreb and Banovina. Zagreb Airport says that they are incredibly proud of this recognition.

"We can rightly consider that this recognition for 2020 has an added value that is reflected in the special and increased responsibility towards the work obligations of all workers and service providers at the airport in new and unexpected circumstances," Zagreb Airport points out.

ACI announced the winners of the ASQ Awards today at its headquarters in Montreal, Canada. The awards are given for contributions to the promotion and enhancement of the user experience of airport services. The ACI/ASQ program recognizes airports around the world that, according to passengers' opinion, provide the best airport services and travel experience.

In addition to being named the best airport in Europe for two to five million passengers for the third consecutive year (2018, 2019, and 2020), shortly after its opening in 2017, Zagreb Airport also received recognition for the greatest improvement in Europe. Thus, Franjo Tuđman Airport has been awarded for the fourth consecutive year.

"We are delighted that our significant efforts to ensure the best possible service in these demanding circumstances have been recognized, primarily taking into account the protection of health and safety of our passengers, workers, and business partners," said Zagreb International Airport Management Board president Huseyin Bahadir Bedi.

He also announces the imminent start of the summer flight schedule and hopes for a gradual recovery in traffic and the resumption of normal business activities.

The categorization of airports by passenger numbers has not changed despite fewer passengers

The Airport Service Quality (ASQ) is the world's leading program for assessing the level of passenger satisfaction with airport services.

The field program is conducted throughout the year by certified ASQ agents, interviewing passengers at airports through a single ACI/ASQ questionnaire. Slightly fewer passengers were surveyed in the second quarter of 2020, while in the first, third and, fourth quarters, the same number of passengers was surveyed as in 2019.

ACI (Airport Council International) has not changed the categorization of airports by the number of passengers, even though in all airports in 2020, there was a significant reduction in passengers' number due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To further improve business at Zagreb Airport, this program will provide additional insight into implementing pandemic protection measures during 2021.

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Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Zagreb Airport Incentive Program: Capital City Airport After More Routes

February 17, 2021 -  The Zagreb Airport incentive program encourages the arrival of new airlines and enables them to open new routes to and from the capital city. 

Croatian Aviation reports that from December 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, Zagreb International Airport offers airlines the opportunity to apply for incentives called the "Traffic Growth Incentive Model," which aims to achieve the arrival of new airlines at Zagreb Airport or encourage them to open new routes to and from Franjo Tuđman Airport.

Airlines can apply for this model in the specified period by offering the airport only routes that Zagreb did not have in 2019 and 2020, thus disqualifying certain routes given that regular traffic has existed in the past two years (such as Toronto, Seoul, Tel Aviv, Prague, Bucharest, Berlin, etc.).

Airlines must achieve a certain annual increase in passenger traffic on the new routes for airlines to be eligible for the incentive. Also, airlines must achieve at least 20% of passenger traffic in the winter schedule, aiming to reduce seasonality, which is one of the basic problems of all Croatian airports, especially those on the coast.

An airline that introduces one or more new incentive routes may use it for up to 5 years.

Therefore, if the airline transports more than 75 thousand passengers from Zagreb in the first year of introducing the new line, it will receive an 80% discount on PSC (Passenger service charge). If it manages to transport more than 150 thousand passengers, it is approved for an additional 3% discount on the same item. 

The passenger service fee in international traffic per departing passenger in Zagreb is 17.50 euro per passenger (in Rijeka and Brač 12 euro, in Split and Dubrovnik 11 euro Pula and Zadar 10 euro, in Osijek 9 euro per passenger). Zagreb also has an additional 1.85 euro for each departing passenger that airlines pay through the landing and take-off fee.

Airlines can also get a discount on the passenger service fee in the following years. Still, every year it is necessary to ensure an increase in the number of passengers, which motivates carriers to open new routes, which is really only interesting for low-cost airlines given that they generally operate to a range of destinations.

Namely, British Airways will fly to Zagreb only from London, Lufthansa from Munich and Frankfurt, Air France from Paris, KLM from Amsterdam, etc., so classic carriers connect Zagreb mainly with their hubs, which is why this discount is certainly motivating for low-cost airlines. 

Zagreb Airport offers a classic incentive program consisting of as many as seven different models in its price list. The 7th model refers to airlines that perform at least 300 scheduled operations in 6 months or 500 in 12 months with a Zagreb-based aircraft. Therefore, the aircraft would have to perform a minimum of 2 flights a day in a year, which should not be a problem for an airline that opens a base in Zagreb (based aircraft of low-cost airlines generally perform 3 to 4 flights a day). In this case, the airline is granted a 100% discount on the centralized infrastructure fee (ramp and terminal).

This part of the incentive program is obviously aimed at low-cost airlines, which fit perfectly into the business model (Wizz Air, EasyJet, Eurowings, Ryanair, Volotea). The question remains whether one of the above low-cost companies will decide to launch a new international line to and from Zagreb in this difficult year (i.e., by the end of June).

Zagreb International Airport said on the matter:

"The Zagreb International Airport Incentive Program has been prepared in cooperation with several airlines to open new destinations and increase the number of passengers and routes. Although there is airline interest in this new incentive program, the development of the epidemiological situation and related measures by state governments will influence airlines' decisions to apply for the program."

Given that we are in a crisis year and that air traffic recovery will be significantly slower than initially expected, it is not clear why Zagreb Airport has announced this incentive program with a short application deadline.

Also, to obligate the transport of a certain percentage of passengers in the winter flight schedule when traffic at all Croatian airports is significantly lower than in the summer months would be logical in 2019, but not now when carriers are unsure of the scope of regular operations for two weeks in advance, which primarily depends on epidemiological measures and last-minute passenger reservations.

Croatian Aviation adds that it would be commendable if such an incentive program was limited, for example, exclusively to the summer flight schedule this year, which would stimulate carriers to come to Zagreb Airport as early as 2021, in a year in which airlines will try to reduce costs and reduce risk to a minimum.

We will know soon whether this part of the incentive program will bear fruit. Companies that decide to launch lines to Zagreb must make the first flight on the new line by June 30, or in just over 4 months.

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Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Flights to Croatia: Air Canada Rouge Cancels Toronto-Zagreb

February 17, 2021 - The latest news for flights to Croatia as Air Canada Rouge cancels Toronto-Zagreb.  

Ex Yu Aviation reports that Toronto and Zagreb will no longer be connected by Air Canada Rouge, as tickets were officially removed from sale this week. The news comes just after Air Canada was given government approval to acquire leisure carrier Air Transat, which also operates to the Croatian capital.

Namely, the federal government approved Air Canada's purchase of competing airline Air Transat last week. Air Canada should now merge the Rouge brand into Air Transat, thus leaving the chances of both Air Canada and Air Transat operating Zagreb services unlikely. It could also raise competition in Europe.

“The Commission is concerned that the transaction could significantly reduce competition on 33 origin and destination (O&D) citypairs between the European Economic Area (EEA) and Canada. The Commission's preliminary market investigation revealed that Air Canada and Transat have been historically competing head-to-head for the passenger air transport services between the EEA and Canada. In particular, with its Air Canada Rouge brand, Air Canada developed a business model to address the lower-cost and leisure-oriented nature of the EEA-Canada passenger air transport markets, thus directly competing with Transat," said the European Commission. 

Zagreb is not the only victim of this merger, as Air Canada Rouge has also canceled services in Central and Eastern Europe, like Warsaw and Bucharest.

Recall, Air Canada Rouge did not work in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic but had plans to resume traffic on May 6. Toronto and Zagreb were to be connected four times per week until early October, with 140 return operations planned.

In 2019, both Rouge and Air Transat handled 65.486 passengers in the Croatian market, a 14.6% increase compared to the year before.

However, the good news is that Air Transat plans to resume seasonal flights between Toronto and Zagreb on May 11, increasing their operation up to three flights a week during the peak summer months.

Air Transat should operate 114 return flights with 36,660 seats available, with services operated by the Airbus A330-200 jet.

Ex Yu Aviation adds that as it currently stands, all Canadian citizens must quarantine upon returning to Canada for two weeks, while entry for most foreign nationals is banned into Canada. These restrictions have been in place for almost a year, and whether they will change by May remains to be seen. 

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Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Split-Barcelona-Split COVID-19 Trip Report, February 11 to 16, 2021

February 17, 2021 - It's been 3 and a half months since I last braved pandemic travel from Croatia to Spain. So, what's changed? My Split-Barcelona-Split COVID-19 trip report, from February 11 to 16, 2021. 

At the end of October 2020, I traveled for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged Europe. At the time, European countries were still figuring out how to introduce negative PCR tests for entry and defining what entailed being 'high-risk.' This time around, a year deep into the pandemic, it's safe to say most countries have defined requirements that work for them. Furthermore, the information is readily available for travelers online to avoid any mishaps on their journey, which I nearly avoided (more on that later). 

Not quite for tourism purposes, I booked my trip to Barcelona to visit my partner who currently plays water polo there. His birthday falls on February 13, conveniently before Valentine's Day, and fortunately, on a weekend when he didn't have any games. Much like my first trip visiting him there, I needed to bring a suitcase of his belongings, which had been sitting in my bedroom since COVID-19 forced him out of Split last March. 

Unfortunately, it wasn't much easier getting to Barcelona this time - and thanks to the double whammy of it being the offseason in the middle of a pandemic, not only were ticket prices steep, but the usual two-hour travel time turned into 14-hour travel days from start to finish. 

The only available options were on the route from Split-Zagreb-Frankfurt-Barcelona and back, operated by Croatia Airlines and Lufthansa. At least my luggage was included in the ticket price. 

I was tested for COVID-19 24-hours before my departure at the Vukovarska testing center in Split. A huge win is that testing prices were halved at the end of January, so instead of paying almost 900 kn for a PCR test and English translation, tests are currently 400 kn and 450 kn with a translation. I was tested at 7:40 am and received my result via email before 5 pm the same day, in English, and with my passport number included (another requirement for Spain). 

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My 6:50 am flight time to Zagreb had me awake at 4 am to make sure I had everything in order. Arriving at the airport with just over an hour to spare, the woman at the check-in counter ensured I had a negative COVID-19 test in hand and confirmed that I had completed the health registration form for Spain as I'd need the QR code to enter the country. I did. 

"You're my favorite kind of traveler."

As you can imagine, Split Aiport doesn't have much going on before 6 am, especially during corona times, so I was through security and at my gate with plenty of time to spare. My flight to Zagreb was nearly full. 

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My quick connection in Zagreb had me there long enough to examine that Costa coffee was open for to-go drinks and pastries, and Duty-Free welcomed a few shoppers. Other than that, there is not much to do but stare and each other's masks while waiting to board. 

Observation: Unlike when I traveled in October, the airport staff was not concerned with the type of mask passengers wore. Last time, we were only allowed disposable surgical masks, which were checked and distributed if needed before boarding. This time, cloth, filter, and disposable masks were accepted.

Croatia Airlines shared disinfectant wipes to all passengers once they boarded the flight. 

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My arrival in Frankfurt was smooth, and a quick trip through security brought me to my gate two hours before my departure to Spain. Frankfurt airport was busy with travelers, but only cafes, hot dog stands, and small convenience shops worked. 

All that was needed when boarding for Spain was my ticket and passport - no QR code or test result was checked then, though they did announce on the intercom before boarding that both documents were required. My flight was full. 

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Spain changed their entry requirements in November 2020, two weeks after I visited last time. 

"Spanish authorities require all passengers traveling to Spain to complete the FCS health control form (exceptions are passengers in transit). The generated QR code must be presented upon arrival. All travelers to Spain over 6 years of age must have a medical certificate with a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR or TMA test result. The test must have been taken at most 72 hours before arrival, and the certificate must be in English, German, French, or Spanish. Spanish authorities may impose fines up to EUR 6000 per person to passengers who do not comply with entry regulations," Lufthansa alerted me before my flight. 

We arrived in Spain and headed to baggage claim, though not before we entered an area marked for health checks, with airport officials showing passengers to one of two lines. I was ushered into the line where my entry QR code was scanned (and no COVID-19 test checked), while the other line had various health officials checking test results and QR codes. I arrived at baggage claim 30 seconds later and received an email from Spanish health officials welcoming me to Spain. 

Another thing that was different in Spain this time is that restaurants and bars are open for indoor and outdoor dining, albeit during two-time blocks - in the morning for breakfast from 7:30 am to 10:30 am and for lunch from 1 pm to 4:30 pm. While there is still a curfew between 10 pm and 6 am, delivery works until 11 pm. Barcelona closed indoor and outdoor dining a week before I arrived in October. 

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This was a game-changer, given that bars and restaurants have been closed for indoor and outdoor dining in Croatia since November. 

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Like my last trip to Barcelona, masks are mandatory inside and outside, and it's rare to find anyone not following the rules. Shoppers sanitize their hands upon entering any store, and the discipline of the citizens does not go unnoticed. 

Twenty-four hours before my flight back to Croatia, I took a PCR test at a local clinic that promised same-day results. The price was not as friendly as in Croatia (85 euro), but I wanted to ensure I was healthy returning home, especially since I would be in contact with my high-risk mother who babysat my cats while I was away.

Recall, if you do not show a negative PCR test, no older than 48 hours, upon arrival in Croatia, you are subject to self-isolation until you can show a negative PCR test, which is done at your expense. More on that here.

The testing experience in Spain was also a bit... aggressive. The nurse swabbed deep into each nostril for 10 seconds and continued to all corners of my mouth and gums, unlike the far more delicate experiences I've had in Croatia. I received my negative test result the same day, around 6 pm. 

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After a full four days in the Catalonian capital, it was time to return home on yet another 6 am flight and 3:30 am wake-up call. The agent at the check-in counter asked to see my negative test before checking my bag and continuing to security. My flight to Frankfurt was half full, and there was no one sitting between me and my row-mate. 

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Once we disembarked the plane in Frankfurt, German police greeted us to check that passengers staying in Germany had the correct documentation. Since I was on my way to Split, they sent me along.

With a few hours to spare before my flight to Zagreb, I felt a sense of relief as I was halfway home. I went to the gate only to find passengers boarding to Seattle before us - I don't think there were more than 20 passengers on that plane.

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Boarding for Zagreb was slower than normal as the buses that transported passengers from the gate to the plane arrived 20 minutes apart. There was not a free seat on the always-fun propellor plane journey to Zagreb. We were asked to fill out health forms during the flight, which the flight attendants collected and turned into the authorities once we arrived.

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Despite leaving 10 minutes later than scheduled, we arrived in Zagreb on time, or at 1:35 pm, with just enough time for my flight to Split, departing at 2:35 pm. While this would almost always be more than enough time to connect for a domestic transfer at Zagreb Airport, especially during pandemic times, Zagreb managed the unthinkable. 

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Around 25 people from my Frankfurt flight continued onto a domestic transfer, which resulted in a larger line at passport control - but only in extraordinary circumstances could this affect me making my flight, I thought. 

However, only one passport control officer was on duty, spending on average 3-5 minutes with each passenger who:

1.) Didn't know they needed a negative PCR test to enter Croatia and tried avoiding mandatory self-isolation for various reasons, which resulted in phone calls, and even the arrival of a new officer, who didn't think to jump in and help check tests or documents 

3.) Had the wrong type of test and complained that they didn't know they needed a PCR test to enter Croatia

4.) Had a negative PCR test to enter, which the officer required you send to his email right then and there.

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Boarding for my flight was at 2:15 pm, and around 2:00 pm, with another 15 or so still in front of me, I began to worry. Unsurprisingly, there was no one there to speak to apart from the lone worker at passport control. 

At 14:18, they called final boarding for Split. I panicked, as did the 7 or so passengers behind me who were also connecting to Split. I asked the man in front of me who was traveling to Dubrovnik if I could sneak in front. I approached the counter and informed the officer they called final boarding for Split and had all of my documents and test ready to go. 

He could not have cared less - nor did he hurry in the least. 

He looked at my test, told me to send him an email of it, took my phone to enter the email address, and asked for my phone number. After 3 minutes, it was over, I rushed to my gate and informed them there were still others waiting at passport control, unsure of how long it would take. I finally boarded the plane, though the remaining passengers took another 15 minutes to arrive. All because of one officer at passport control. 

We arrived in Split safe, sound, and somehow on time, with our bags arriving shortly after. 

It was smooth sailing, that is until we arrived back in Croatia. While PCR tests no later than 48 hours old are required to avoid going into self-isolation, Zagreb Airport may want to consider adding a second officer in the passport area when flights land - or you may want to re-think the timing of your domestic transfer. 

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Monday, 15 February 2021

Flights to Croatia: TAROM Announces Bucharest-Dubrovnik Charter

February 15, 2021 - The latest news for flights to Croatia as TAROM introduces Bucharest-Dubrovnik this summer, and Croatia Airlines operates on only eight international lines from Zagreb until March. 

Croatian Aviation reports that TAROM, Romania's national carrier, plans to operate a charter line between Bucharest and Dubrovnik in this year's summer flight schedule.

The Romanian national airline plans to connect Bucharest and Dubrovnik this summer on a charter line for the Romanian tour operator Karpaten Turism, which offers tourist arrangements for holidays in southern Croatia.

The Bucharest - Dubrovnik line will operate from June 4 to October 15, 2021, with a frequency of one flight per week, every Friday.

Timetable:

RO3731: Bucharest (OTP) 07:50 - 08:30 Dubrovnik (DBV),

RO3732: Dubrovnik (DBV) 09:30 - 12:00 Bucharest (OTP).

Tourist arrangements include flight, accommodation, and transfers to and from Dubrovnik Airport, and reservations can be made on the tour operator's website. TAROM has no regular lines to Croatia, and the charter line to Dubrovnik was in operation almost 10 years ago.

The company has 28 aircraft in its fleet (Airbus, Boeing, ATR). ATR72-600 aircraft with a capacity of 72 seats, which the company took over only a year ago, should operate on the route to Dubrovnik. On the 21 return flights, the Romanian national airline will offer more than 3,000 seats between Dubrovnik and Bucharest.

The only direct commercial route between Croatia and Romania was that of Croatia Airlines between Zagreb and Bucharest (only in the summer flight schedule), but it is unlikely that the Croatian national airline will resume operations on that route in this year's summer flight schedule.

Furthermore, Croatian Aviation reports that until the end of February, Croatia Airlines will offer only 8 direct international flights from Zagreb.

Namely, from February 16 to 28, the Croatian national airline will offer 8 direct international flights departing from Zagreb Airport. The ninth international line is between Zagreb and Rome, but it has a stop in Split.

Zagreb - Amsterdam - Zagreb continues to operate daily,

Zagreb - Brussels - Zagreb operates on Fridays and Sundays (February 19, 21, 26, and 28),

Zagreb - Frankfurt - Zagreb continues to operate daily (2 to 3 times a day),

Zagreb - Copenhagen - Zagreb operates on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays (February 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, and 28),

Zagreb - London - Zagreb operates on Mondays (February 15 and 22),

Zagreb - Paris - Zagreb operates on Thursdays and Sundays (February 18, 21, 25, and 28),

Zagreb - Rome - Zagreb (via Split) operates on Thursdays and Sundays (February 18, 21, 25, and 28),

Zagreb - Skopje - Zagreb operates on Mondays and Fridays (February 15, 19, 22, and 26),

Zagreb - Zurich - Zagreb operates on Wednesdays and Sundays (February 17, 21, 25, and 28).

Lines to Munich, Sarajevo, and Vienna have been suspended. The airline plans to resume traffic to Sarajevo from February 28, while the resumption of direct flights between Zagreb and Vienna is expected from March 3.

From February 16 to 28, the airline will operate approximately 66 return flights from its base in Zagreb to the above-mentioned international destinations. These are fewer lines and weekly departures compared to the first half of February and January. Given the announcements of the reintroduction of direct lines from Zagreb to Vienna and Sarajevo, at the beginning of March, there should be a slight increase in capacity from Zagreb Airport, but also a larger number of weekly operations on other international routes.

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Monday, 15 February 2021

Coronavirus Deals Airports Blow, Zagreb International Airport Suffers Badly

February the 15th, 2021 - The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has dealt a very heavy blow to the aviation industry, and airports across Europe have suffered in a way we could never have previously imagined might occur. Zagreb International Airport is no exception.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, air transport continues to unfortunately be one of the biggest losers in the coronavirus crisis, as evidenced by the daily news reports of losses and government "injections" for airlines and airports alike. The latest Eurostat data for January shows that the leading European airports recorded a decrease in the number of passengers and air operations by more than 80%, and Croatia's Zagreb International Airport is very much within this framework.

In January this year, the largest drop in the number of commercial flights in the EU was recorded at Germany's usually very busy Munich Airport, by as much as 25,400 flights, which represents a concerning drop of 85 percent.

Paris CDG had 23,500 fewer flights, down 63 percet, and within that are Amsterdam and Frankfurt with 23,100 fewer flights and a drop of 61 percent and 64 percent respectively. Madrid dropped by 22,900 flights and Barcelona by 17,700. This is followed by Rome with 16,400 fewer flights, Vienna with 15,800, Copenhagen with 14,900 and Düsseldorf with 12,800.

Zagreb International Airport had 38,036 passengers in January, compared to 203,033 in the same month last year, down a massive 81 percent. In terms of the number of air operations, Zagreb International Airport had a decline of 55 percent given that last month there were 1403 commercial flights compared to 3133 in the same month last year.

Eurostat points out that the first results of the coronavirus pandemic were recorded back at what was then the beginning of things going dramatically wrong for most European countries, namely in March 2020, when the number of commercial flights to the European Union, including passenger, cargo and postal air transport, fell by 44 percent compared to March 2019. The largest drop in traffic was recorded in April 2020, when only nine percent of traffic from the same month a year earlier actually operated, and in May it improved by a mere one percent, despite being one month closer to summer.

During the warmer summer months which are known for tourism, there was a partial recovery and in July there was a decline of 64 percent when compared to the same month back in 2019, and in August the decline was 53 percent, only to rise again in September to 59 percent, in October to 62 percent and in November and December to 68 percent and 67 percent respectively.

There has been no recovery to speak of yet this year because the statistics show a decrease in traffic at the EU level by 68 percent compared to January 2020. During the month of January, there were 156,867 commercial flights in the EU, with Germany receiving 36,932 and France 36,313 flights.

Spain had 30,157, Italy 19,986, and the Netherlands 16,997 takeoffs and landings in January. For Croatia, Eurostat records 1448 flights, which means that there were only 45 flights at all other Croatian airports except Zagreb International Airport, which is truly astonishing.

At the EU level, Slovenia had the fewest flights in January, standing at just 402. The decline in total air traffic last year was recorded by the Croatian Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), whose data shows that 675,000 passengers were transported by air last year, and 2.27 million were transported in the same way the year before, which is drop greater than 70 percent in total.

In terms of cargo, there is not so much difference because last year a total of 1461 tonnes of cargo was transported compared to 2133 tonnes in the year before. Last year, a total of 48.7 million passengers were transported by road, rail, sea and air to Croatia, which is a decrease of 42.1 percenr when compared to 2019.

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