As TCN already reported yesterday, low-cost airline Ryanair will connect Zagreb with 24 destinations in 16 countries in the winter flight schedule. In December, it will introduce a third aircraft into the Zagreb base, expecting around one million passengers on all routes by next summer, announced Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary.
Three based A320 aircraft with a capacity of 180 seats will operate from Zagreb to Baden Baden, Basel, Brussels, Dortmund, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, London, Malaga, Malta, Malmö, Manchester, Memmingen, Milan, Naples, Oslo, Paris, Paphos, Podgorica, Rome, Sofia, and Sofia.
“Ryanair is investing in Croatia to help it recover from the tourism industry after Covid and strengthened connectivity with the rest of Europe as Ryanair continues to grow and air transport returns to pre-pandemic levels. As Ryanair takes over 55 new B737-8200 aircraft this winter, we are pleased to base three new aircraft in Zagreb, which will fly a total of 24 new routes during Ryanair’s first Zagreb-based winter,” he said.
This is also Ryanair’s first winter flight schedule from Zagreb, which starts at the end of October. O’Leary added that this is his first press conference and visit to Zagreb, reports Jutarnji List.
He emphasized that Zagreb is a great challenge for them and that they see great potential there, as in the whole of Croatia, already recognized in the world for its tourism. For Zagreb, he pointed out that it is currently one of the growing ‘hot city break’ destinations.
“People want to come to Zagreb, especially for the Christmas fair in winter, and it also has a lot of cultural and historical sights, good food and a growing number of foreign tourists. The recognizability of Croatia in football is also important, and as far as I was able to see, there are a lot of beautiful women,” O’Leary added.
The Ryanair CEO believes that Zagreb deserves to have at least about 3.5 million air passengers a year because it is the capital, and he believes that in cooperation with Zagreb Airport, with which they share a vision of growth, these figures will be reached.
He reiterated Ryanair’s earlier announcements that they would invest a total of $300 million in Zagreb to ‘base’ three aircraft by the end of this year, two of which are already in the base from July and September, thus directly creating 100 jobs and another 750 indirect ones throughout Croatia. However, he would be disappointed if they only brought the fourth plane to Zagreb next summer because they could have three to five of them there.
He also mentioned the excellent cooperation with other airports in Croatia – Zadar, Pula, and Dubrovnik, and that from next spring, they will fly to Rijeka. Still, only Zagreb will work in the winter, while other flights will be seasonal.
O’Leary noted that Ryanair wants Croatia Airlines to be a “living and healthy” company, as they do not have the same passenger structure nor fly to the same destinations and airports.
“We care that Croatia Airlines lives, and we did not come here to destroy it, but we came to create healthy competition, and as the line to Dublin did not destroy the Polish LOT or AirLingus, neither will CA,” O’Leary replied.
He is satisfied with the current business with Zagreb and Croatia. He expects continued strong demand for their flights, concluding that there is no reason why the number of total air passengers of all carriers will not increase to around 7 million in the next three years.
The airport should be handling 3.5 million passengers next year, six million in 2023, and over seven million travelers in 2024. We plan on carrying over ten million passengers in cooperation with Zagreb Airport over the next five to six years”, Mr O’Leary said.
Ryanair was expected to announce new routes to Zagreb at this press conference. However, the company instead used media attention to promote its lines from the new Zagreb base.