Dobar dan (Good day),
After reading an answer to a FAQ on the Croatia Airlines web site I realised how difficult it is for Croatia Airlines to introduce services beyond Europe. Not only are they restricted to be a feeder carrier for major Star Alliance carriers but are also disadvantaged by Croatian government officials who may have a very limited understanding of air travel who approve decisions made by the OU board.
From Croatia Airlines Web Site:
Question Does Croatia Airlines plan to establish direct flights to and from the USA in the near future?
Answer At the time being we are not planning to establish direct and charter flights to the USA, for commercial reasons. Although we are well aware of a large number of our immigrants who live in the USA, Croatia can be reached via larger European cities (Munich, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome etc.). Croatia Airlines is an airline with middle range aircraft and, in order to establish a connection with North American cities, Croatia Airlines would have to change its fleet, which is not its present plan. Please note that several departments within Croatia Airlines, the government authorities of the Ministry of the Sea, Tourism, Transport and Development, as well as the government authorities of the state of arrival decide upon establishment of a new route. The decision depends on the regulatory rules of the countries involved, the flight schedule and other factors.
It seems to me that other persons within Croatia realise the dilemma OU faces and are keen to move on this market quickly. I found the following via aerocroatia which posted an article which appeared on Flight International.com.
Dalmatian Holidays spots airline opportunity
Croatian travel business Dalmatian Holidays is projecting first-year profits of around 10 million ($12 million) following its planned second quarter launch of a low-cost scheduled airline serving domestic and international routes.
Director Zeljko Romic says efforts are nearing completion to raise the (pounds)20 million start-up funding to launch Dalmatian.hr with a leased fleet of four Airbus A320s and two Boeing 737-300s serving short-haul domestic and European destinations.
A second development phase will see two additional A320s joining the fleet by mid-year, when long-haul services will also be launched.
We would prefer to operate two Airbus A330-200s on the long-haul routes, although we are experiencing difficulties in sourcing these aircraft and may instead have to begin our long-haul operations to North America and Australasia with Boeing 767-300ERs or similar aircraft, says Romic. We could take one A330-200, but not until the first quarter of 2007.
Dalmations long-haul route network will include Chicago, New York and Toronto, and the carrier has plans to operate to Australia and Japan. Domestic services will be operated from three bases in Croatia, including Split and Zagreb, and a third in the north of the country.
Romic says that, with Croatian in-bound tourism growing at an annual average of over 20% and traffic from Australia, Canada, Japan and the USA increasing at annual rates of between 15% to 39% each year for the past five years, the prospects for long-haul air travel are promising.
The only direct long-haul service to Croatia is operated by Skyservice Airlines of Canada under the organisation of a Canadian Croatian tour operator. Domestically, Croatia Airlines is pretty much only a regional airline, operating as a feeder for Lufthansa.
Sixty per cent of the routes we hope to operate are not being served at the moment, apart from seasonal foreign carriers. The market is ripe for a new airline that can take advantage of this growing market and our intentions are to provide transfers for our passengers via Zagreb to all our intended destinations, says Romic.
AIMEE TURNER / LONDON
I wish the best of luck to Romic and his crew with getting this Croatian bird off the ground!
Comments will be much appreciated.