Ryanair announced in a press conference this morning that it would be opening a base in Zagreb Airport with 12 brand new routes. Ryanair has never operated flights to Zagreb before, so the announcement is a major development for this EU member state capital that currently has very few low-cost carrier services.
A major breakthrough for Zagreb Airport
After years of stagnating growth and very few new route announcements, Zagreb Airport has finally had a major breakthrough today. Ryanair is coming to the city for the first time ever, and will base two aircraft there. This represents an investment of $200 million and it is a major development not just for Zagreb but also for the wider region.
Ryanair has chosen its Lauda Europe division for Zagreb, unsurprisingly. This means that the two aircraft that will be based in the city will be Airbus A320s. They will operate 12 brand new routes out of Zagreb, starting in September this year. However, two routes will start even sooner, in July, with aircraft from bases in Milan Bergamo (BGY) and Brussels Charleroi (CRL). Furthermore, Eddie Wilson, Ryanair’s CEO, also indicated that more route launches are likely.
The 12 confirmed routes are:
- London Stansted, daily
- Frankfurt Hahn, three weekly
- Paris Beauvais, two weekly
- Brussels Charleroi, three weekly
- Memmingen, two weekly
- Rome Ciampino, three weekly
- Oslo Sandefjord, two weekly
- Milan Bergamo, four weekly
- Dortmund, two weekly,
- Karlsruhe / Baden Baden, three weekly
- Podgorica, two weekly
- Gothenburg, three weekly
Major setback for Croatia Airlines
Most of the new routes that Ryanair announced today for Zagreb will be direct competition for Croatia Airlines, the flag carrier and national airline of Croatia. Croatia Airlines has so far had a dominant position in Zagreb Airport. Low-cost carriers, conversely, have had just 7% of all seats offered from Zagreb in 2019, which is a very low share for a European airport.
The route pairs with which Ryanair will indirectly but strongly compete with Croatia Airlines are as follows:
- London Stansted against London Heathrow
- Paris Beauvais against Paris Charles de Gaulle
- Brussels Charleroi against Brussels International
- Memmingen against Munich
- Rome Ciampino against Rome Fiumicino
- Oslo Sandefjord against Oslo International, though Croatia Airlines seems to have already discontinued this route
- Milan Bergamo against Milan Malpensa
- Frankfurt Hahn against Frankfurt International
- Podgorica against Podgorica, though Croatia Airlines has postponed this route launch
Ryanair strengthens its position in Croatia
Ryanair already boasts a base in Zadar Airport, which is also a Lauda base, and it flies to the coastal Croatian airports of Pula, Split, and Dubrovnik. Up until last year, it also operated flights to Rijeka.
With this base opening, Ryanair will not only be investing $200 million into Croatia, but it will also be hiring 60 people in Zagreb. Twenty of these will be pilots, and 40 will be cabin crew.
Ryanair’s decision to open a base in Zagreb follows an earlier decision by Zagreb Airport to lower its fees for airlines that launch brand new routes there. This was widely seen as a move to attract low-cost carriers, and it seems to have resulted in much success already.
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