Pilots Warn about Bleak Future for Croatia Airlines

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, January 26, 2018 – The Croatian Union of Civil Pilots (HSPP) on Friday sent an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković expressing concern about the future of the national carrier Croatia Airlines (CA) and the government’s lack of care for the company.

The HSPP warned that over the past several years one-third of CA pilots and mechanics had left the company and that dozens of those still working for CA were applying for jobs elsewhere and would leave soon as well. “No one will be left to fly and maintain planes. This is due to the lack of care of all governments for the national airline,” said the union.

It accused the government of appointing the fourth acting CA director, with recruitment conditions no longer including experience in air transport, which, it said, created room for the political employment of candidates lacking the required competence.

“The CA director cannot conduct serious talks with foreign partners, set the system running or deal with serious problems because his position if temporary. That position does not make him credible in relations to partners and he cannot make any serious moves or conduct talks,” the pilots warned.

They said that the government was favouring CA’s main competitors while leaving the very weak company without any prospects. At the same time, Slovenia’s Adria Airways has increased the number of services by as much as 20%, and is rapidly taking over the common market and will introduce as many as seven new lines in the summer, including two in Croatia.

Air Serbia, although until recently entirely inferior to CA, in 2014 not only had better results than CA in terms of the number of passengers, cargo, lines, flights and fleet, but has also become the regional leader, making Belgrade a hub with twice the number of connecting flights in relation to Zagreb, the HSPP said, adding that this summer Air Serbia would fly 30 times a week to four destinations in Croatia.

This year, Air Serbia will introduce a service connecting Belgrade and Toronto, along with the existing service to New York, the union said, noting that the French company Vinci would take over Belgrade Airport, which, it said, would deal a huge blow to Croatian civil aviation.

To further describe the situation in air transport in the region, the union said that Ryanair, easyJet, Eurowings and other companies would introduce hundreds of new flights from Croatia this year.

In a period of only three years, 13 new airlines started operating and 20 new lines were introduced in Zagreb, CA’s base, the union said, warning that in the period from 2012 to 2016 the number of passengers in air transport in Croatia grew 40%, yet despite that in 2016 CA transported fewer passengers than in 2012.

“Our share in Croatian air transport is rapidly and constantly decreasing, and in the summer its is below 20%. After it was restructured, CA is in a much worse state than before, according to all indicators,” claim the pilots.

They noted that CA was selling its property in order to ensure financial stability, renting expensive planes and crews from Spain instead of hiring Croatian workers.

“There are no changes in the company, it has been lagging behind the competition and going down in every way. The managing structure has not changed for 20 years. The government must start applying professional and not political criteria when appointing the company’s new management,” the union said in the letter, claiming that the current management was incompetent and that CA employees had been working for 13 months without a collective agreement.


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