Croatia Airlines received an Austrian Airlines Dash 8 aircraft yesterday afternoon. The aircraft is now reported to be heading for re-configuration in Croatia Airlines’ technical department. This is the second aircraft that Croatia Airlines received this year, and it follows the news that the Croatian airline is canceling its Airbus A320neo order.
A new aircraft for Croatia Airlines
A Dash 8 Q400 aircraft, currently carrying the registration OE-LGR, has landed in Franjo Tuđman Airport Zagreb yesterday afternoon. The aircraft arrived from Bratislava in Slovakia.
OE-LGR’s flight from Bratislava to Zagreb comes following almost five months of storage as part of Austrian Airlines’ cost-saving plan to fight the adverse effects of COVID-19. Austrian Airlines has now found a better use for this aircraft: it is being dry-leased to Croatia Airlines.
The aircraft is almost 20 years old. It was first delivered to Augsburg Airways, an airline that has not been operating since 2013 and which was part of Lufthansa until it was replaced with Lufthansa Regional.
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Avioradar reports that this aircraft is now heading for internal re-configuration and then an entry into Croatia Airlines’ registry, which begins with the code “9A”. The aircraft is carrying the Star Alliance livery, so perhaps Croatia Airlines will choose not to make any modifications to the aircraft’s exterior appearance since the Croatian flag carrier is a member of Star Alliance together with Austrian Airlines.
The Dash 8 from Austrian for Croatia is long expected
Simple Flying first reported that Croatia Airlines intends to take on a Dash 8 aircraft from Austrian Airlines in February. At the time, the plan was for Croatia Airlines to take an Austrian Airlines Dash 8 aircraft with the registration OE-LGJ. The LGJ was supposed to join Croatia Airlines from 1st May 2020, when the Croatian flag carrier usually begins with its major increase in flight operations to serve the seasonal tourist demand to the Adriatic coast.
The Dash 8 Q400 is also already part of the Croatia Airlines fleet. The airline has six in total, which is half of its fleet. Had it not been for COVID-19, Croatia Airlines’ Dash 8 Q400 aircraft would be flying to destinations like Munich, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Brač, Bucharest, Mostar, Skopje, Milan, Prague, Zurich, and Vienna. And this is just from the capital, Zagreb, alone. From Split, destinations would have included Rome, Lyon, Zurich, Munich, and Vienna.
Instead, most of these routes have been canceled, and Croatia Airlines keeps scheduling its Dash turboprop fleet to cover routes that are otherwise operated by Airbus aircraft, but which are currently suffering from a great drop in demand.
A320neo order canceled
At the same time, Croatia Airlines is said to be in talks with Airbus regarding the cancellation of its Airbus A320neo order. The order was for four aircraft, due to arrive in 2022 and 2023.
The order was first made in 2008, at an unfortunate time, just before the global financial crisis hit the aviation industry. The original order was for four A319 aircraft due to be delivered in 2013. The order was then converted to an Airbus A320neo order in 2015, and a deposit of 8.5 million euros was paid last year. However, the order will still not be going through.
What do you think Croatia Airlines will actually be doing with additional capacity when much of its fleet was under-utilized in the summer already? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.