Ryanair Effect: Croatia Airlines Launches A New Route Outside Of Zagreb

Croatia Airlines launched its first-ever international route out of Osijek Airport in Croatia today, linking it to Munich in Germany two times weekly starting this week. The route launch comes amid a strong competitive pressure placed on the Croatian national airline in Zagreb Airport by Ryanair.

Croatia Airlines Airbus Dash
Croatia Airlines began flying internationally out of Osijek Airport today. Photo: Getty Images

Croatia Airlines launches international flights out of Osijek

Croatia Airlines today inaugurated a brand new route that is in no way linked to its Zagreb operations, in a move that signals the airline’s search for new markets following the arrival of Ryanair on its home territory.

It is highly unusual for the Croatian flag carrier to be launching a new scheduled service outside of its home base in Zagreb, and it is particularly unusual for it to do so during the winter timetable.

The new route is from Osijek Airport (OSI), in Croatia’s Slavonia region, to Munich Airport (MUC) in Germany. The route operates as follows:

  • Flight OU4431 departs MUC at 10:10 and arrives in OSI at 11:45
  • Flight OU4430 departs OSI at 12:20 and arrives in MUC at 14:00

The route is operated twice weekly as part of a w-rotation originating in Split Airport (SPU). It runs as follows:

  • SPU – MUC
  • MUC – OSI
  • OSI – MUC
  • MUC – SPU

The route is the first-ever international service that Croatia Airlines is operating to Osijek Airport. It is also Osijek’s only international service at the moment.

However, there are no codeshare agreements in place for this flight despite it being to a Star Alliance hub of Munich, so it remains to be seen how successful the route will turn out to be.

Aside from the Munich-Osijek-Munich rotation, Osijek Airport currently has no flights apart from the domestic PSO services to Rijeka (RJK), Pula (PUY), and Zagreb (ZAG), operated by Trade Air.

Why is Croatia Airlines launching new routes outside of Zagreb Airport?

The launch of the Munich-Osijek-Munich rotation is the first time in almost a decade that Croatia Airlines has launched a new route that does not originate or finish in its base, Zagreb Airport.

The Croatian flag carrier is searching for new markets amidst intense competitive pressure from Ryanair, which has based two Airbus A320 aircraft in Zagreb via its subsidiary airline Lauda Europe.

Ryanair plans to have four aircraft in Zagreb by summer 2022. The third aircraft is coming in December 2021, and nine new routes have already been announced to meet this capacity increase.

Meanwhile, in Croatia’s coastal airport of Zadar (ZAD), Ryanair also already boasts a seasonal summer base of two Lauda Europe aircraft. This has left Croatia Airlines with no room to fly international routes from there, so the airline is cautiously operating only domestic PSO flights to Pula (PUY) and Zagreb (ZAG) from Zadar at the moment.

Ryanair Lauda
Ryanair has placed intense pressure on Croatia Airlines in Zadar and Zagreb via its subsidiary Lauda Europe. Photo: Getty Images

How did Croatia Airlines react to Ryanair’s arrival in Zagreb?

The launch of Croatia Airlines’ new route between Munich and Osijek is the first concrete step the airline has taken to respond to Ryanair’s arrival in Zagreb.

Only several days after the news broke did the airline react, and only by issuing a written reaction. In it, Croatia Airlines said it was deeply unhappy about Ryanair receiving discounts on new route launches. It also stated it expected to be given more favorable financial terms by Zagreb Airport on the basis that it is the largest user of the airport’s services.

However, no announcement has since been made on this matter, and Croatia Airlines has not done anything to prevent Ryanair’s continuing expansion. In December, Ryanair will have more routes out of Zagreb than Croatia Airlines will.

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