Photo credits: Airport Zagreb

Zagreb Airport is close to securing flights to the United States, which, if launched, would mark the resumption of services between the two countries after 22 years. A European carrier is currently in talks with Zagreb Airport over possible seasonal services to New York, which would run during the 2017 summer season.

However, a final agreement is yet to be reached. The General Manager of Zagreb Airport, Jacques Feron, previously said it would be “fantastic” for the Croatian capital to offer direct flights to the United States. “In the US, New York would be an excellent destination, although it is true that this metropolis is well connected to all major European airports”, Mr Feron said. His words echoed that of Sani Sener, the CEO and founder of TAV Airports Holding and TAV Construction, which forms part of the consortium running Zagreb Airport. He recently noted that the most desired route from the Croatian capital would be New York.

Earlier this year, the Croatian Ambassador to the United States announced that the Embassy had resumed discussions with various stakeholders in order to explore all possibilities for the establishment of direct flights to Croatia. “We will do all we can to spearhead and facilitate this effort, and achieve direct flights as soon as it is economically possible”, the Ambassador said. The last time Croatia had scheduled flights to the United States was during the summer of 1991, when Pan Am maintained four weekly nonstop roundtrips from New York to Zagreb with its Airbus A310 aircraft. Prior to that, JAT Yugoslav Airlines maintained services from Zagreb to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Any European Union registered carrier can operate services from any point in the block to the United States if it holds a valid foreign air carrier permit with the United States Department of Transportation. Zagreb Airport attempted to initiate flights to the Big Apple five years ago, prior to the concession. The then Managing Director, Tonči Peović, held talks with North American Airlines over a potential two weekly service from JFK Airport to the Croatian capital starting May 2011. Mr Peović intended to waive landing and handling fees for North American over a five year period and for the flights to operate with a Boeing 757 or Boeing 767-300 aircraft. The aim of the service was to turn Zagreb into a regional transit hub, but talks between the two sides collapsed and the flights never materialised. Mr Peović noted that an average cabin load factor of 65% would have made the service profitable. North American Airlines has since ceased operations.