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Photo Credit: Ex-Yu Aviation

IMPROVING CONNECTIVITY BETWEEN ZAGREB AND LJUBLJANA

The CEO of Croatia Airlines, Jasmin Bajić, has said the carrier is in talks with Slovenian authorities about improving connectivity between Zagreb and Ljubljana. He noted that the Slovenian capital has potential for flights such as Skopje – Ljubljana – Zagreb since over 40.000 passengers flew between Macedonia’s and Slovenia’s largest cities each year prior to the bankruptcy of Adria Airways in late September of 2019. The route has been unserved since. Ljubljana Airport’s operator Fraport Slovenija previously expressed interest in Croatia Airlines serving Vienna, Skopje, Prague and Copenhagen out of the Slovenian capital.

Ljubljana Airport’s General Manager, Zmago Skobir, recently said talks were underway with a carrier from the European Union to set up a base in the Slovenian capital, without naming the airline. “It is no secret that we are working on having at least one of the EU airlines set up a smaller base at the airport. We believe this would be the fastest and most effective way to improve our country’s air connectivity,” he noted.

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Photo Credit: Croatia Airlines/J.Škof

Croatia Airlines initially held talks with the Slovenian government over launching operations from Ljubljana last year. The airline proposed the stationing of a Dash 8 turboprop aircraft. “Croatia Airlines is potentially interested in establishing flights from Ljubljana Airport in order to enable passengers from Slovenia to connect to European destinations”, the carrier said at the time. However, no final deal was reached with the authorities. The head of Croatia Airlines’ Commercial Division, Slaven Žabo, said last year, “We have had some gain on the Slovenian market since Adria Airways’ bankruptcy where we offered certain solutions in order to react to the demand that was there. However, we had not added any flights to Slovenia because our hubs are nearby and we were more focused on our sales and marketing activities in Ljubljana at the time, which helped us significantly increase our market share in Slovenia.”

Croatia Airlines previously toyed with the idea of setting up bases outside of its home market. In 2017 the airline planned to station aircraft in Sarajevo, Pristina, Skopje and Tirana. At the time, it said, “Market research data has shown that there is a potential for the successful opening of additional bases in the south-eastern European region and Croatia Airlines, as a European Union community carrier, has recognised its business interest in this. The prerequisite for this is to purchase four to six new aircraft and extensive preparations are underway”. However, the idea was abandoned upon the departure of the carrier’s CEO at the time, Krešimir Kučko, to Gulf Air.