Airline Startup Of The Week: ETF Airways Of Croatia

ETF Airways is the newest airline in Croatia and our airline startup of the week. The airline, founded by a former MD-80 and 737NG pilot, received its AOC less than two months ago, and it is already flying across Europe every day.

ETF Airways Boeing
ETF Airways is the new Croatian airline and the country’s first Boeing operator since 1999. Photo: IAC

ETF Airways: the basics

ETF Airways is a Croatian company founded in November 2020 by a group of aviation industry professionals and former pilots. Among them is the ETF Airways’ CEO, Stjepan Bedić, who was a Boeing 737 pilot for SunExpress and an MD-80 pilot for Dubrovnik Airline.

The ETF in ETF Airways stands for “Enjoy The Flight.” The airline received its AOC in May 2021 in Croatia, and it is already flying every single day. Speaking to Simple Flying, Bedić revealed that the airline might soon start hiring more pilots because the entire staff is already deployed.

The airline’s business model is charter and ACMI operations only, and it believes it will quickly establish itself as a flexible and reliable aircraft capacity provider. ETF does not consider itself to be a competitor to Croatia Airlines because, according to its CEO, its market is not Croatia but all of Europe.

ETF Airways Boeing 737-800 Croatia
ETF Airways will have one aircraft based in Kosovo and one in Croatia. Photo: IAC

The fleet

ETF Airways has a fleet of two aircraft right now, and both are Boeing 737-800s. The first is called Voyager, registered 9A-LAB and 20 years old, and the second is called Enterprise, registered 9A-ABC and 17 years old.

Interestingly, ETF is the first airline ever to register the Boeing 737-800 in Croatia. It is also the first Croatia-registered airline to operate the Boeing 737 in over twenty years because Croatia Airlines has not been a Boeing operator since 1999.

ETF’s CEO told Simple Flying that the airline chose Boeing over Airbus because the 737-800 has a longer range than the A320 and because it can seat an additional nine passengers. Both of ETF’s aircraft operate in an Economy-only configuration with 189 seats.

ETF Airways Boeing 737
ETF received its first aircraft, Voyager, on 29th May 2021. Photo: ETF Airways

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The airline is already flying every day

The first aircraft to join ETF’s fleet was Voyager (9A-LAB), which arrived on 29th May. The 737 performed a test flight along the Croatian coast and then left for Kosovo.

Ever since 3rd June, the aircraft has been stationed in Pristina Airport (PRN), from where it has operated charter flights for a tour operator every single day since then, to destinations like Basel (BSL), Helsinki (HEL), Gothenburg (GOT), and Malmö (MMX).

This Boeing 737 also jumped in to operate a charter flight between Zagreb and Copenhagen in late June this year, taking Croatian football fans to a Spain-Croatia football match in the Danish capital along with four other Croatia Airlines aircraft.

In contrast, ETF’s second aircraft, Enterprise, has not been deployed for any charter operations since it arrived in Zagreb on 18th June. ETF hopes to base it in one of the airports along Croatia’s Adriatic coast eventually in order to ferry sun-starved European tourists to Croatia.

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