Could a brand new Croatian flight company be on the horizon? According to Nino Borić, who has been working in international aviation for thirty years, yes it could.
As Sasa Paparella/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 6th of January, 2019, there could soon be a new Croatian flight company named Smile Air. Although the airline company’s name was registered in Zagreb during the summer of 2017, its director and co-owner, Nino Borić, who has been working for over thirty years in the field of aviation, is in no particular hurry to set up the project, and is proceeding cautiously.
“We’d like go start work at the end of this year, but it’s difficult to succeed in such a move because we need to find the right aircraft on the market and their prices are high at the moment. We’re not under any real pressure for the project to be completed either this year or next year, but this does need to sustainable, longterm story in which there must be no mistakes. In addition to that, flight permits take some time, so we’d be happy with [beginning work at] the beginning of 2020. People are coming to us themselves and we’ve gathered together a good team,” Borić told Poslovni Dnevnik.
He added that he follows the philosophy of Virgin’s Richard Branson, who, as he says, knows that a good attitude towards employees also results in satisfied passengers. Borić is the owner of Avio Nova, headquartered in Florida, and for years he has been employed in high positions in the operations of various airlines. The other co-owner of Smile Air is Bernard Lukač, a 30-year-old pilot and former instructor in Croatia Airlines, who, for the last eight years, has worked as an inspector at the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (CCAA).
The third member of the team is Krunoslav Dumlija, a pilot with fifteen years of valuable experience, who is also a former CCAA inspector. When asked about the amount of capital needed to start the business side of this entirely new Croatian flight company, Borić said he would start with two aircraft on operational leases, and for that between 3-5 million dollars would be required. The plan is to start with the Embraer E-190 Brazilian aircraft, with a capacity of 100 passengers, which is ideal for all-year operation. Later on, they would obtain the Airbus A321, which they would use for seasonal flights.
In the long run, the plan for this Croatian flight company focuses on getting an Airbus A330, and the aim is to have a fleet of five aircraft in the first three years. As quoted on the company website, Smile Air will deal with ACMI and wet lease business, regular charter and leisure lines, and ad hoc charters. They will have flights to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and even to Iceland. They will also rent their crew to other companies, and combinations are also possible with such a scenario.
The idea has already had some initial support from the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ).