First Split Winter Tourism Committee Meeting held at HGK to Discuss Winter Flights

Daniela Rogulj

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This meeting was attended by Joško Stella (Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board), Joze Tomaš and Nataša Bušić (HGK), Pero Bilas (Split Airport), Arnoud Zaalberg (GM of Le Meridien Lav), Mario Šerić (MarCon), Jelena Tabak (Split Caterers Association), Maria Mustapić (Split caterers and hostels), Jasmina Kruščić (Split caterers), and Daniela Rogulj (TCN). 

This meeting was held specifically on the issue of bringing winter flights to Split, with two proposals presented to kick off the discussion.  

Initiative proposal

– Most logical – talk to airlines with a strong presence in the right markets

– Increase expectation

– Last weekend of October – first weekend after 3 Kings – January 6

– Extends season by 10 weeks

– Many people travel at this time already

– This period is beneficial for the private sector

– Gives time to create concrete products – events, conferences, city breaks, etc.

– Suggestion – connection with London – 2 airlines – British Airways and Easyjet

– Why? BA is a member of the Oneworld Alliance – gives us access to overseas customers – partner is American Airlines – 80% of the overseas market covered + the local market 

– The majority of the overseas market is covered if we have British Airways (OneWorld Alliance) in addition to Croatia Airlines 

– easyJet covers local British and Croatian market

– 6 flights – 3x week total

– 256 planes in BA fleet – 30 Airbus 319 with 144 seats, 67 Airbus 320 – 180 seats, 17 Airbus 320 neo with 180 seats

– Easyjet – 310 planes – 87 A319 or 320 with 156 seats, 167 A320 with 186 seats, 41 A320 neo wiith 186 sets 

– British Airways load factor – November 2018 – 80.6%, 2019 – 83.6%, December 2018 – 80.4%, 2019 –  83.7%

– easyJet load factor – November 2018 – 89.2%, 2019 – 90.8%, December 2018 – 89.2%, 2019 – 91.3% 

– 6-weekly flights – 3x each airline – 30 flights a month – 8,800 passengers each way – 10% locals (-800) – 2-3 overnights – 17-18k guest overnights total – growth of 12/13% in Greater Split area

– Private sector to promote and create offers, public to give support

– Promotion directed to the British market

– BA used to fly to Split in the winter of 2006-2007

– Find out why BA does poorly in Dubrovnik in winter

– London is only one example of a destination (i.e., we could do the same for Amsterdam or Paris)

County Tourist Board proposal

– Push shoulder season like the last 10 years

– Flights started in May-late September

– Shoulder season really broadened since 2019 

– Tourist boards propose to give 136k euros to airlines – HTZ must accept it

– The tourist board will get info on airlines with the most passengers during the year, out of these, which fly the most in April in October

– Let’s meet with easyJet, Eurowings, and Ryanair and see if they’ll fly 2 weeks before the summer flight schedule/2 weeks after (4 weeks total – March & November)

Hotel perspective

– Anyone can do business in the summer

– The difference for Le Meridien / Radisson, etc. is group business – their year is made if they have a good April / May / June – October / November

– Split is an excellent congress destination

– We rely too much on private accommodation, County approach continues this trend

– Initiative approach covers and gives more to everyone

– We need stability with flights for MICE markets

What is realistic?

Split Airport perspective 

– Airbus 320 is costly for return flights

– London is the biggest hub in the world but Britain is now a 3rd country, and Croatia is joining Schengen

– When Croatia joined the EU in 2013, traffic doubled – 1.5 million to 3 million passengers

– This will be a huge change when we join Schengen – it’ll be one big domestic flight

– Not sure what the best way is – to focus on one airline or several

– Croatia Airlines announced their summer flight schedule with 21 international destinations in total – 18 from Split Airport – 15 from Zagreb – 7 or so from Dubrovnik

– Croatia Airlines has been hugely impacted by Ryanair – but maybe this was a good thing

– Croatia Airlines did a study that revealed they shouldn’t stay in Zagreb but move to the coast

– Croatia Airlines will likely speak to Split Airport

– Potential Zurich flights planned 2-3 times a week

– Croatia Airlines is Split’s second-biggest airline – 17% of all traffic when looking at a total of 50 airlines

– Croatia Airlines is 80% of all traffic at Split Airport in winter

– Let’s work on a Croatia Airlines winter flight and use it as an example for other airlines

Key takeaways

– Common goal of the private sector is to extend the season in November and December 

– Understanding and willingness to help expressed by Split Airport

– Assumed strategic shift of interests by Croatia Airlines from Zagreb towards Split

– Possibility to negotiate with Croatia Airlines to extend the season by introducing direct winter flights to Zurich as well as winter flights to other destinations

– County to meet with Croatia Airlines next week, Split hoteliers to get together to work on aligned offseason packages

For more, check out our travel section.


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