As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, although the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has led to changes and temporary reductions in some Croatian routes, Ryanair has almost fully met its expectations since last year’s opening of its Zagreb Airport base.
This was confirmed by David O’Brien, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ryanair Group for Lauda and Malta Air – the aircraft under this brand have been stationed by Ryanair at Zagreb Airport.
“Zagreb is a metropolis of one million inhabitants within its surroundings, and so many more people gravitate to it. Based on our rich experience I can say with certainty that the planned 3.5 million passengers per year is a very conservative estimate. It will probably grow even more in the coming period,” said O’Brien, who visited Zagreb recently and announced some new Croatian routes and three more aircraft to be based there.
Ryanair were observing Zagreb for a very long time…
He added that the Croatian capital has been in Ryanair’s focus for a long time now and that he is happy that they finally managed to open up a base here, not only the route, but also the base.
“We’ve long viewed Zagreb as Lufthansa’s backyard because the fact is that, although there are other carriers, you actually have to use Lufthansa and its partners to go anywhere in Europe. Ryanair wants to change that and be a quality competition that will give Croatia’s residents and passengers coming to Zagreb a much better and cheaper service,” stated O’Brien.
He added that Ryanair currently has six routes to Croatia country this year – Zagreb, Zadar, Rijeka, Pula, Split, Dubrovnik, of which there are bases in Zagreb and Zadar where it holds three aircraft.
“We’ve opened more than 80 Croatian routes and created 180 direct jobs. This is a total investment of 600 million US dollars from Ryanair in Croatia, and all this without a single euro of any state subsidies from the government, unlike the 12 million euros that Croatia Airlines receives annually,” he explained.
He added that Zagreb as an air destination differs from the other five in Croatia because it is the capital city, which is a model that, for airlines, means that it has a year-round interest in travel, and also that it can represent a short trip of just several days.
For the base in Zagreb itself, O’Brien pointed out that this is an investment totalling 300 million US dollars, given that three aircraft are or will be based there, each worth about 100 million dollars
“We’ve remained in operation throughout the entire coronavirus pandemic and our aircraft occupancy is solid, standing at over 85 percent. However, the emergence of the Omicron strain has led to certain disorders – France and Germany previously banned arrivals from the United Kingdom, Morocco banned arrivals from many European countries, and many other European countries introduced their own individual travel restrictions.
Therefore, we had to temporarily reduce the number of flights by about 30 percent, which was followed by reductions in flights related to Zagreb, but we expect a recovery from March onwards and that in the summer of 2022, we should reach 100 million passengers,” assured David O ‘Brien.
For more on Croatian routes by air, land and sea, check out our travel section.