Croatia aims to reduce strong seasonality in aviation
Croatia has developed a new tourism development strategy which aims to significantly reduce the highly seasonal nature of the country’s air connectivity. The plan is to achieve this goal through greater cooperation between tourism organizations, airports and airlines. Some of the proposed measures include incentives for year-round operations, which are already offered by airports, as well as joint promotional activities. According to the aviation analysis company Center for Aviation, “Croatia is one of the most seasonal markets in Europe and highlights the heavy reliance of its aviation market on summer leisure routes, with low demand during the winter season. This sees a peak of activity in July and August, with June and September acting as intermediate months.”
Croatian Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac said: “Our goal is to increase the number of flights available to Croatia throughout the year, which not only contributes to air connectivity, but also to the development of a tourism product throughout the year. . This was specifically highlighted in the new [tourism] strategy, with a focus on improving both domestic and international air connectivity”. She added: “Working with airlines, tour operators and travel agencies on marketing, the strategy promotes the introduction of year-round flights from major source markets. We are happy because Croatia Airlines connects Croatia with a number of important tourist destinations throughout the year. The flag carrier of Croatia is an important segment of our national brand”.
Croatia Airlines itself has also struggled with high levels of seasonality. This winter, the carrier plans to maintain thirteen international routes from its Zagreb hub, although one of them will only operate until the end of January next year. It will operate four other national destinations, which are funded through a public service obligation mechanism. As part of its three-year post-Covid strategy, Croatia Airlines has highlighted the reduction of seasonality as one of its main priorities. “In addition to increasing efficiency and competitiveness, the company faces key operational and structural challenges that include the year-round flight network,” the company said.
Dubrovnik Airport said it will put more emphasis on reducing seasonality and increasing flights during the winter months. Airport General Manager Viktor Šober said: “Winter connectivity will be one of our priorities, however, to be more efficient we will definitely need to improve synergies with the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the city. of Dubrovnik in our negotiations. with the airlines. During the 2022/23 winter season, Dubrovnik Airport is expected to be connected to four international destinations – Athens with Aegean Airlines, Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, Barcelona with Vueling and London with British Airways”. Mr. Šober added: “Further negotiations are still ongoing with the airlines. Importantly, Freebird Airlines Europe will again operate charter flights from Dubrovnik to Central and Western Europe from late September to early December this year, and again from February 2023.”
Split Airport echoed calls for greater cooperation between all relevant stakeholders to reduce seasonality. “Nearly half of our annual traffic is generated in July and August. During the four summer months, we have the highest number of passengers in the country. We are extremely seasonal. We need attractions that not only appeal to locals but must be competitive with European metropolises because we have to live up to them. It is neither easy nor cheap and it takes time, energy and vision. There are good developments, but we have to work on creating an attractive offer for tourists outside the high season and then we will have more planes arriving in winter,” the airport noted recently. He added: “Carriers say they don’t want to fly to a destination where they have fantastic results between April and October, which then have to cover the losses generated over the winter. They want certainty and that is why there are so many airlines in Split in the summer and few in the winter”.