After the summer success of Dubrovnik Airport’s nonstop flights to New York, it’s no surprise that the Croatian capital wants to get on board. But given the pandemic conditions and losing out on Croatia’s busiest airport title this year (which will go to Split), Zagreb Airport will take some time to get back on its feet. The Ryanair Zagreb base, however, is definitely a step in the right direction.
But even after a few challenging Covid years, Zagreb Airport General Manager Huseyin Bahadir Bedir believes that long-haul flights will return to the capital between 2022 and 2025, reports Ex Yu Aviation.
“We are in constant contact with carriers across the world to negotiate and reach an agreement to increase airport traffic. The US market is no exception. We are working on the establishment of nonstop flights between the United States and Zagreb. However, ultimately, whether these services will be introduced depends on the commercial decision of the individual carrier”.
The United States should be on Zagreb’s radar, especially after the announcement that Croatian citizens can travel visa-free as part of the US visa waiver program. But the reality is that Zagreb has not been connected with the United States since the summer of 1991 through a nonstop Pan Am flight from New York. Of course, Zagreb was also connected to the cities of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles through JAT Yugoslav Airlines when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia, but that was a very long time ago.
Ex Yu Aviation adds that before the pandemic in 2019, 136,638 people flew indirectly between Zagreb and the United States. Most flew between Zagreb and New York (21% of all passengers between Zagreb and the US), followed by Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Miami, Boston, and Houston.
Zagreb Airport likely won’t fully restore its long-haul flight network until 2025, though we will already see some airlines return next year, like Air Canada and Air Transat with seasonal operations from Canada.
“It is no secret the resumption of medium, and long haul flights primarily depend on travel restriction imposed by different countries. Zagreb Airport had a considerable number of passengers from the Far East, Australia, and North America. The return of these flights will depend on border restrictions. We expect the gradual resumption of these services between 2022 and 2025”, Bedir concluded.
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