What Happened To Croatia Airlines’ Boeing 737s?

In its early beginnings 30 years ago, Croatia Airlines operated a diverse fleet: ATR, Boeing 737, Cessna, BAe 146, Piper PA-31T Cheyenne, and Hawker-Siddeley aircraft all flew for the airline. In this article we have a look at what happened to Croatia Airlines’ five Boeing 737 aircraft.

Croatia Airlines Boeing 737-230
9A-CTC went to Nationwide Airlines where it suffered damage beyond repair in 2007. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia

Croatia Airlines got its Boeing 737s from Lufthansa

Croatia Airlines was founded in 1989 under the name of Zagal (Zagreb Airlines), but it changed its name to Croatia Airlines a year later, just as the state of Croatia made constitutional changes to begin separating from Yugoslavia. This was also when Croatia Airlines began assuming the role of a flag carrier for Croatia.

With the eruption of war within Yugoslavia in 1991, the airspace over Croatia closed, and Croatia Airlines suspended operations. By the time it re-opened a year later, Croatia was already an internationally recognized country, independent from Yugoslavia. The European country that Croatia credits the most for its independence is Germany.

It is therefore unsurprising that Croatia Airlines’ first international flight was to Frankfurt, with a Boeing 737 aircraft leased from Lufthansa. All five 737s that Croatia Airlines operated in the 1990s came from Lufthansa. They carried the following registrations:

  • 9A-CTA
  • 9A-CTB
  • 9A-CTC
  • 9A-CTD
  • 9A-CTE

All five were 737-200s.

Croatia Airlines Boeing 737
9A-CTA went to South Africa’s ASL Aviation Group subsidiary, Safair. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia

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9A-CTA, 9A-CTB, and 9A-CTC arrived first

The first three of Croatia Airlines’ five Boeing 737 aircraft arrived in 1992. All three were manufactured for Lufthansa in 1981. They were registered as RC-CTA, RC-CTB, and RC-CTC at first because Croatia used the “RC” prefix before it chose to be allocated “9A” when it was recognized as an independent country. All three all stayed in Croatia Airlines’ fleet until 1999 when the following happened to them:

9A-CTA went to Safair, the South African subsidiary of the ASL Aviation Group, which also owns FlySafair. Safair leased it to Comair straight away and then to Interlink Airlines. So this aircraft never left South Africa.

9A-CTB went to Air Slovakia, an airline dissolved in 2010. The aircraft was with this airline from 1999 to 2000 when it too went to Safair. Between 2000 and 2009, Safair had leased it to Interlink Airlines and kulula.com, which is a low-cost carrier owned by Comair.

9A-CTC went to South Africa too. It was with Nationwide Airlines until 2007 when it was damaged beyond repair in an incident. South Africa’s accident report described the incident as the right-hand engine separating from the aircraft.

What Happened To Croatia Airlines’ Boeing 737s?
9A-CTE ultimately went to Shaheen Air of Pakistan. Photo: Ken Fielding via Flickr

9A-CTD and 9A-CTE arrived in 1993

The next two 737-200s arrived in 1993. They, like the first three 737s, also went to South Africa.

9A-CTD left Croatia Airlines in 1999 to join the fleet of Nationwide Airlines. According to Planespotters.net, it was withdrawn from use in 2007.

9A-CTE left in 1998, a year earlier than the other four 737s, to join Nationwide Airlines too. However, it was not stored by Nationwide. Instead, it made its way to Shaheen Air of Pakistan in 2009. Pakistan is also where this aircraft was retired.

Do you think Croatia Airlines should have remained a Boeing customer? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.