Ryanair and its Austrian sister airline Lauda have announced a total of 15 new routes for 2020 from the Croatian coastal cities of Zadar, Rijeka and Dubrovnik. How is Ryanair able to expand so much in this European country? And why in Zadar, which is a relatively small airport?
Ryanair in Croatia
Ryanair already has a strong foothold in Croatia. It maintains international services out of five Croatian airports, the same number as the country’s subsidized flag carrier Croatia Airlines.
Out of more than 30 routes that Ryanair operates to Croatian coastal airports Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik, every single one is seasonal. Only Lauda operates a single year-round flight, from Stuttgart to Split.
This reflects just how seasonal Ryanair’s operations to Croatia are. The prime example of this is the coastal city of Zadar. In the summer, Ryanair alone has a total of 19 seasonal routes out of Zadar Airport. In the winter, the airport does not have a single international scheduled flight.
Ryanair had a single-aircraft seasonal base in Zadar but closed it in 2018. This was an expected move, as it makes little sense for a giant like Ryanair to operate a seasonal base with a mere single aircraft.
Next year, Zadar will once again become a Ryanair base. Lauda will base three A320 aircraft in the airport to launch 13 new routes. This was reported by Zadar Airport in a Facebook post.
The new routes
This major expansion of 13 new routes by Lauda complements or partially replaces the existing services by Ryanair. The total number of routes Ryanair and Lauda will be operating out of Zadar next year is 31, which is a significant number for this relatively small regional airport.
The new destinations are: Aarhus, Paris Beauvais, Bremen, Cork, Gdansk, Hamburg, Kaunas, Maastricht, Riga, Liverpool, Toulouse, Vienna, and Wroclaw.
To operate the new routes and some of Ryanair’s existing routes out of Zadar, Lauda will be basing three A320 aircraft there. The routes are expected to be seasonal.
The other new routes that Ryanair and Lauda are launching in Croatia in 2020 are from Vienna to Dubrovnik, and from Hahn to Rijeka.
How is Zadar growing so much?
The Zadar County allocates significant funds annually to the tourist board. The tourist board then provides funding to airlines to partially offset the costs they face through taxes and airport charges. The principal beneficiary of this in Zadar is Ryanair.
According to the Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List, Ryanair received 12 million Euros last year from the national Croatian Tourist Board as support for its flights. It is therefore unsurprising that both Ryanair and Lauda keep expanding so much in the country.