Croatia Airlines is preparing to park some of its aircraft for the long-term. The Croatian flag carrier’s mechanics division estimates some aircraft will be parked for “a long time”, perhaps even a year. The Airbus A320s, of which Croatia Airlines has two, will not be used at all until Christmas.
Most of the fleet is grounded
Jutarnji List reports that Croatia Airlines is using less than half of its fleet for both scheduled and charter operations on a daily basis. On an average day, seven out of Croatia’s 13 aircraft are operating one or more flights. This is a fairly low utilization number: some of these aircraft only operate a single rotation per day.
The two Airbus A320 aircraft, which is the largest capacity Croatia Airlines has on offer, will be stored for a prolonged period of time. Currently, Croatia Airlines’ flight schedule indicates that one of them will be put to use around Christmas. For example, an airbus A320 is scheduled to operate flights OU413 and OU414. This is the evening rotation between Zagreb Franjo Tuđman Airport and Frankfurt.
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The impact of COVID-19
As a result of the slump in demand for air travel and entry and exit restrictions, Croatia Airlines has carried almost 1.25 million fewer passengers in the period between January and October 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019.
The Croatian national airline is still waiting for a COVID-related cash injection from its owner, the government of Croatia. For this reason, Croatia Airlines is not issuing refunds to its customers who have had their flights canceled and are not wishing to switch to another travel date or ask for a voucher.
However, some customers have been able to claim back their money through their card providers, or they have been issued a refund via a codeshare partner if they were booked on a Croatia Airlines flight via another airline. As a result, Croatia Airlines has indeed issued 600,000 euros (705,000 USD) in refunds so far this year.
Some in the country have also claimed that Croatia Airlines is not in a position to demand a cash injection in aid of COVID-19 when the government of Croatia agreed no less than a year ago to inject 250 million Kuna (33 million EUR or 39 million USD) into the airline, to help it with debt repayments and to cover its operating losses.
Dash 8-400 aircraft are of good use right now
The fleet utilization at Croatia Airlines at the moment is as expected: lower capacity aircraft are being used far more because they are operating on the routes they previously operated on, as well as on the routes that used to be operated by Airbus A319 and Airbus A320 aircraft. The Dash 8-400 pilots are flying 60% of their 2019 hours, while the Airbus pilots are flying as little as 30% of 2019’s hours.
You can read Simple Flying’s review of the Croatia Airlines flight OU490 from Zagreb to London Heathrow here.
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