Europe’s largest low cost carrier Ryanair is set to announce the opening of a base in Zagreb, at a press conference in the Croatian capital today at 11.30 CEST. It will be attended by Ryanair CEO, Eddie Wilson, as well as the General Manager of Zagreb Airport, Huseyin Bahadir Bedir. New routes, to be operated by subsiduary Lauda Europe, are expected to include Charleroi, Beuvais, Dortmund, Hahn, Baden Baden, Memmingen, Bergamo, Rome Ciampino, Podgorica, Sandefjord, Gothenburg and London Stansted. Operations are expected to commence in September. The new routes will strongly aid in Zagreb Airport’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as improve the availability of cheap air fares from the city. Budget carriers currently account for less than 4% of Zagreb Airport’s total traffic. 

The announcement will be followed by another conference in Zadar at 13.00 CEST where the airline will officially announce the launch of its new seasonal base in the coastal city, starting this June, with the stationing of three aircraft. A total of seventeen new routes will be launched. These include Budapest, Bucharest, Bari, Rome Ciampino, Bergamo, Modlin, Gdansk, Vaxjo, Stockholm Skavsta, Aarhus, Hamburg, Bremen, Eindhoven, Maastricht,  Edinburgh, Newcastle and Liverpool.

As previously reported, Zagreb Airport has been in talks with the budget carrier and has launched a new subsidy scheme to stimulate the arrival of new airlines and the launch of new routes. In order to qualify for the discounts, which includes an 80% reduction in the passenger service charge that amounts to 17.5 euros, an airline must launch operations from the Croatian capital to destinations that were not previously served in either the pre-pandemic 2019 or in 2020. The carrier must also maintain services throughout the year. Among the large low cost carriers in Europe, both easyJet and Wizz Air previously maintained flights to the Croatian capital but operations were terminated years ago.
Ryanair held talks with the Croatian Ministry for Tourism in 2018 over the potential introduction of flights to Zagreb. In 2019, Ryanair’s subsidiary Lauda expressed interest in opening a base in the Croatian capital. At the time, it was proposed for the airport's higher fees to be avoided with the reopening of its old terminal building, which would have been used exclusively by budget carriers. However, the plans never materialised following strong objections from Croatia Airlines, expressed to both the state and the airport. Mr Bedir previously noted, "We understand the principles by which low cost carriers do business and we are attempting to find ways to cooperate with them”.


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