Croatian travel business Dalmatian Holidays is projecting first-year profits of around €10 million ($12 million) following its planned second quarter launch of a low-cost scheduled airline serving domestic and international routes.
Director Zeljko Romic says efforts are nearing completion to raise the €20 million start-up funding to launch Dalmatian.hr with a leased fleet of four Airbus A320s and two Boeing 737-300s serving short-haul domestic and European destinations.
A second development phase will see two additional A320s joining the fleet by mid-year, when long-haul services will also be launched.
“We would prefer to operate two Airbus A330-200s on the long-haul routes, although we are experiencing difficulties in sourcing these aircraft and may instead have to begin our long-haul operations to North America and Australasia with Boeing 767-300ERs or similar aircraft,” says Romic. “We could take one A330-200, but not until the first quarter of 2007.”
Dalmation’s long-haul route network will include Chicago, New York and Toronto, and the carrier has plans to operate to Australia and Japan. Domestic services will be operated from three bases in Croatia, including Split and Zagreb, and a third in the north of the country.
Romic says that, with Croatian in-bound tourism growing at an annual average of over 20% and traffic from Australia, Canada, Japan and the USA increasing at annual rates of between 15% to 39% each year for the past five years, the prospects for long-haul air travel are promising.
“The only direct long-haul service to Croatia is operated by Skyservice Airlines of Canada under the organisation of a Canadian Croatian tour operator. Domestically, Croatia Airlines is pretty much only a regional airline, operating as a feeder for Lufthansa.
“Sixty per cent of the routes we hope to operate are not being served at the moment, apart from seasonal foreign carriers. The market is ripe for a new airline that can take advantage of this growing market and our intentions are to provide transfers for our passengers via Zagreb to all our intended destinations,” says Romic.