Croatia Airlines To Offer Direct Ferry Connections To Islands

Croatia Airlines has signed a business agreement with Jadrolinija, the Croatian boat operator that handles almost all of the ferry traffic to the country’s many islands. This is a significant development for the Croatian national airline, so let’s take a look at what we know so far.

Croatia Airlines Airbus A319 aircraft
Croatia Airlines has signed one of the most important agreements in its thirty-year history. Photo: Croatia Airlines

The strategic agreement with Jadrolinija

In a statement to Simple Flying, Croatia Airlines confirmed that it has signed a business agreement with the primary boat operator in Croatia, Jadrolinija. The purpose of this agreement is a “cooperation that will create the basis for a tourist offer of higher quality.” Both Jadrolinija and Croatia Airlines are state-owned, and they both call themselves the backbone of tourism in Croatia.

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Croatia Airlines intends that this agreement will enable a “unified service” for Croatian citizens and tourists to make Croatia “even more accessible.” The intention is to create a brand new booking platform through which passengers wishing to make use of this new agreement will be able to book their entire journey from any city in Croatia Airlines’ network to a set of Croatian islands served by Jadrolinija.

Croatia Airlines Airbus A320 Dubrovnik
Croatia Airlines flies to all of Croatia’s coastal airports: Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik. Photo: Getty Images

Further details of the deal

Upon signing the agreement, the acting head of Croatia Airlines, Jasmin Bajić, stated that the sea fleet of Jadrolinija “perfectly complements” the air fleet of Croatia Airlines. He added (translated):

“The challenging times in which we find ourselves, and everything that has impacted both the Croatian and the global economy in the recent months, presents new challenges to us that we need to respond to in a strategic manner”

He also stated that this cooperation will “create new benefits” for all travelers and that this will make Croatia a more attractive destination for tourists by offering them a more satisfying journey. This is true: at the moment, reaching the Croatian islands is relatively tricky for anyone not arriving by car. The journey is fragmented across several parts, and there is no guaranteed connection anywhere along the way.

Croatia Airlines Dash 8 Zagreb Franjo Tudman Airport
You could soon arrive at a remote Croatian island from anywhere in Europe, on a single ticket. Photo: Croatia Airlines

Where could Croatia Airlines take you in the future?

Details of what destinations will be available, and what minimum connecting time they will have, are yet to emerge. Assuming the cooperation between Croatia Airlines and Jadrolinija starts in its most basic form, the following scenario could hypothetically be available for a passenger living in Frankfurt wishing to take a holiday on the island of Hvar on a random day of Friday 7th August:

First, Croatia Airlines flight OU413 departs Frankfurt Airport at 10:10, with arrival in Split at 11:50. Then, a journey to the port of Split by bus or taxi, with arrival by 13:00 at the latest. The passenger would then have only an hour of wait time until a Jadrolinija ferry departs Split for Hvar at 14:05.

However, other connections are more complicated. Most ferries depart in the afternoon, but most Croatia Airlines flights also arrive into Split in the afternoon. For example, on any of Croatia Airlines’ flights from the United Kingdom to Split, departing both Gatwick and Heathrow, there is not enough time to make a single ferry connection. Thus, it will be interesting to see what connections are actually made available when the platform launches.

Do you think this agreement between Croatia Airlines and the Croatian ferry operator, Jardolinija, will be a model that other airlines follow in the future? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.