High Costs, Seasonality in Croatia Hinder Wizz Air from Expanding Operations

Daniela Rogulj

On December 10, 2018, Ex Yu Aviation spoke with Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi about why the Hungarian low-cost airline has such a limited presence in Croatia.

Citing seasonality and high costs, Varadi said: “Unfortunately, if you look at the Croatian coastline it is a very seasonal business. It is intact for a few months and then sort of dies out for the rest of the year. Zagreb Airport is quite in a similar situation as Belgrade Airport in terms of costs, so I think it is a high-priced airport environment with fluctuating demand. Should the costs come down, I think they would attract us”.

Varadi added, however, that overpriced airports are a problem throughout the region. 

“For whatever reason, it is still kind of an inherited issue in the region to price airports very high and this is not the recipe for success. The recipe for success is taking down airport costs. As a result, you are attracting a lot more capacity into the airport and that capacity will stimulate the marketplace and you will recoup that investment through volume. I think there is still a lot of legacy thinking with regards to airport management and airport costs. If you look even at some of the privatized airports, not in the former Yugoslavia, but for example in Tirana, it is a privatized airport but we have the same issue in Tirana. To some extent, Skopje is a privatized airport and the development of Skopje is not aided because of the airport, it is more aided by the government’s intervention. I think those strategies have to be thought through. But clearly, you have millions of examples in mainland Europe what recipes to follow if you really want drive your aviation and airline industry and, I think, in the former Yugoslavia it revolves around airport costs and the airport operating environment,” Varadi added.

Wizz Air does fly limited services to Split from London, Warsaw, and Katowice, and over the years, they have even operated some other services to Dubrovnik and Zagreb. Recall, Wizz Air first began operations in Croatia in 2009 with a service between Zagreb and Dortmund, though it did not last – and the service between London and Dubrovnik was terminated in 2012.

This winter, only Eurowings will continue operations to the capital, as the airport’s chargers are much higher than many major airports in Europe. Recall, Zagreb Airport upped their fees after the new passenger terminal was built in 2017. What used to be 2 euro for each international passenger is now 17 euro. 

You can read the full story on Ex Yu Aviation.

To learn more about Croatian airports, follow TCN’s dedicated page


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