How Will Croatia Airlines Survive Ryanair Zagreb Arrival?

Lauren Simmonds

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As someone who lives in Zagreb and travels twice per year to the United Kingdom, more precisely to London, I was dreading having to pay Croatia Airlines prices as British Airways, which was far cheaper, still hasn’t returned on this route as a result of the pandemic. With Ryanair now firmly on its way, I have zero doubts that many will be thinking the same as I am.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, although it is neither the first nor is it the largest company, the wildly popular Irish low-budget airline Ryanair has become synonymous across Europe for its ultra cheap flights and is more or less always first option for young people, as well as for many business people who need to travel a lot.

In addition, Ryanair has been present in Croatia since the mid-2000s, but their announcement that it will open its regional base in Zagreb still resonated like a bomb in domestic business and within tourism circles who are anticipating the Ryanair Zagreb arrival with gritted teeth and tight jaws.

While many people in Croatia and Europe are happy to rub their hands together because they will have the opportunity to, with good and long-term planning, travel to another European capital such as London for about 50 euros or less, the question is how their arrival in the Croatian capital will affect Croatia Airlines, which really didn’t need the Ryanair Zagreb arrival to add to its already overflowing heap of problems.

Aviation analyst Gojko Mavrinac, the editor-in-chief of the Croatianaviation portal, pointed out that, in addition to Ryanair deciding to introduce routes to the same European cities as Croatia Airlines (Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, Brussels, London, Paris), it will definitely take a huge percentage of national passengers from the national carrier and deal it another enormous blow.

“Croatia Airlines should react promptly to the Ryanair Zagreb arrival, but the fact is that Croatia Airlines cannot enter the fight at all, primarily because of its prices, with such a large airline. Ryanair has entered the main Croatia Airlines base where it plans to expand its business and Croatia Airlines is now in an almost hopeless situation, I hope they all sat down at the table in Buzin yesterday and are continuing to try to find a solution,” warned Mavrinac.

He added that passengers are looking for cheap tickets today and Ryanair will offer precisely that in Zagreb and thus take a large “part of the cake” from the continually burdened Croatia Airlines, which financially cannot even enter the ring against this European giant.

“A radical change of business is needed for the company to survive in the capital now that the Ryanair Zagreb arrival has been confirmed, which, in the summer of 2022 plans to have routes to as many as 40 destinations from the Croatian capital, far more than CA ever had even in normal circumstances back in 2019,” said Gojko Mavrinac.

Croatia Airlines commented that there is no doubt that the announced flights of the Irish airline from the Franjo Tudjman International Airport in Zagreb will be a direct and additional competition to the national airline.

“CA will adapt its business to the new market circumstances in as much as is possible. It should be noted that part of the newly announced routes refers to flights to secondary airports in destinations to which the national airline regularly flies to primary airports, ie major European transport hubs (Brussels, Frankfurt, Rome, London, Paris) throughout the year, thus continuously providing Croatia’s air connections with the rest of the world,” they stated from the Croatian national airline.

An enormous injection for the capital’s tourism

Although the deal was probably agreed before the Ryanair Zagreb announcement came, the second largest Croatian airline, the private TradeAir, announced recently that it plans to take over the fifth aircraft for its fleet soon. According to, it is an Airbus319 that will join the Fokker F-100 and three Airbus A320.

TradeAir owner Marko Cvijin says an engagement has already been arranged for their fifth aircraft. The Ryanair Zagreb arrival will breathe new life into Zagreb’s tourism, which fell by a concerning 76 percent last year due to the coronavirus crisis and the earthquake, as evidenced by the figures presented recently which showcase about 340,000 guest arrivals and 770,000 overnight stays throughout all of 2020.

In the run-up to the record year which was 2019, Zagreb had 1.3 million arrivals and 2.4 million overnight stays. Simultaneously with the announcements of arriving in Zagreb, Ryanair announced the continuation of operations for Zadar, where it has had a base in the summer season for years, and the increase of the existing 20 routes with another 17.

For all current coronavirus information specific to Croatia, including border and travel rules, as well as testing centres across the country, make sure to bookmark this page.


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