Croatia celebrates 15 years of international air transport links

Image: Croatia celebrates 15 years of international air transport links
German’s love Croatia accounting for a third of all international routes to/from Croatia. Germanwings, TUIfly and Lufthansa share two-thirds of this lucrative market.

Map: CroatiaLast week Croatia Airlines celebrated the 15th anniversary of its first international flight from Zagreb to Frankfurt. It may only have had 15 passengers on that first flight but since then the airline has developed and last year carried 1.4 million passengers at an average load factor of 60%. In 1998 it became a member of the Association of European Airlines and six years later joined the Star Alliance as a regional member.

Logo: Zagreb AirportThree major airports dominate traffic

Croatia is not yet a member of the EU so air traffic is still strictly controlled by air service agreements which tend to stifle growth. Despite this traffic across the top three airports in Croatia has achieved double-digit growth for the last four years, and total traffic at these airports was just under four million in 2006.

Chart: Croatia Airports Traffic 1998-2006
Source: Airport website

In the first eight months of 2007 traffic has continued to grow with passenger numbers up 16% in Zagreb, 7% in Split and 2% in Dubrovnik. Split and Dubrovnik are primarily ‘summer sun’ destinations and their seasonality profile reflects this, with traffic in August and September exceeding that of Zagreb.

Chart: Croatian airports traffic 2006
Source: Airport websites

Apart from these three airports Croatia has a number of other airports which cater for international flights. These are Rijeka (RJK), Pula (PUY) and Zadar (ZAD). Between them they serve around 10% of scheduled capacity and frequency.

Airport Frequency Share Capacity Share
Zagreb 57.0% 48.4%
Dubrovnik 16.4% 21.9%
Split 16.9% 20.8%
Rijeka 2.7% 3.5%
Pula 3.3% 3.0%
Zadar 3.6% 2.4%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 15 October 2007

Rijeka is served as a scheduled destination by TUIfly from five German airports. Pula is served by Croatia Airlines on domestic routes to Zadar and Zagreb but also by LCCs such as Ryanair (to Dublin and London Stansted), FlyGlobespan (to Edinburgh) and Norwegian (to Oslo). According to the airport further services operated by Germanwings, TUIfly, Wizz Air and Sterling will begin soon.

Zadar’s main route is to Zagreb but there are also connections to Stuttgart and Cologne/Bonn thanks to Germanwings and Ryanair flies to London Stansted. The Guardian newspaper in the UK recently proclaimed Zadar as one of the world’s coolest destinations.

Logo: OSIOsijek: looking for LCCs

Another airport at Osijek (OSI) currently has weekly services with Croatian Airlines to Split and Dubrovnik during the peak summer season but is actively looking to attract regular western low-cost carriers with its website asking readers whether they would most prefer London, Frankfurt Hahn, Dublin or Gothenburg. In July the airport signed an agreement with The Low Cost Airport Group Ltd to help manage, market and develop the airport’s potential.

Germans love Croatia

Croatia’s domestic market is currently a monopoly and is dominated by the two major routes from Zagreb to Split and Dubrovnik. However, the international market is much more competitive with Croatia Airlines under growing pressure from German carriers in particular. Germans have a long tradition of taking value holidays in this part of the world as opposed to Spain and Portugal. In fact, Croatia’s tourism marketing slogan is “The Mediterranean as it once was”.

Airline Frequency Share Capacity Share
Croatian Airlines 39.4% 38.9%
Germanwings 8.0% 10.4% 4.6% 5.9%
Austrian 7.0% 5.5%
Lufthansa 6.8% 5.4%
British Airways 3.1% 4.2%
Malev 6.5% 3.9%
Ryanair 2.2% 3.7%
Norwegian 2.4% 3.2%
Wizz Air 1.7% 2.8%
Thomsonfly 1.7% 2.7%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 15 October 2007

German LCCs have over 16% of capacity and Germanwings is challenging Croatia Airlines to be the number one airline between Germany and Croatia. Other LCCs which have a presence include Clickair (Dubrovnik to Barcelona), Aer Lingus (Dubrovnik to Dublin), easyJet (Split to Gatwick), Flybe (Dubrovnik to Birmingham), Sterling (Split to Copenhagen) and FlyGlobespan (Pula to Edinburgh). SkyEurope also operates seasonal routes between June and September to Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar.

Logo: Croatia AirlinesCroatia Airlines: Growing modestly

In the first eight months of 2007 Croatia Airlines has seen passenger numbers grow by eight per cent on its fleet of 11 aircraft (four A320s, four A319s and three ATR42s). In August the airline carried a record 270,000 passengers at a load factor of nearly 76%. Traffic year to date stands at 1.138 million passengers.

From when the airline commenced operations in May 1991 until the end of July 2007 a total of 16.45 million passengers have been transported of which 8.85 million were on international scheduled flights, 5.69 million on domestic flights and 1.91 on charter flights.

Dubrovnik Airline: Charter specialist

Image: Dubrovnik Airline
This three year old charter airline specialises in serving Dubrovnik (hence the name!) using a fleet of five MD82/83 (with 167 seats).


  1. Ferries are low-priced and go regularly between various places by the coast. Although they are not fast they are probably the top alternative to see the beautiful Croatian islands of the Adriatic Sea. Jadrolinija is the main Croatian passenger shipping line that maintains the largest number of regular international and domestic ferry and shipping lines

Comments are closed