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Even though Croatia Airlines has been ordered by the government to launch domestic flights from Osijek Airport this winter, with just over a month left until the season comes to a close, the service is unlikely to materialise. Flights were originally planned to begin in November last year with a leased Embraer EMB120 from Budapest Aircraft Service. In December, the Croatian government ordered its national carrier to launch services from Osijek to Zagreb by the end of 2012. Flights between Osijek and the Croatian capital were to operate five times per week while services to Split were to be inaugurated during the upcoming summer months. It is believed Croatia Airlines is intentionally delaying the lease of the thirty-seat Embraer, to be exclusively used for the route, as the service from Osijek would generate losses.
The Croatian government says it would partially subsidise the flights between Osijek and the capital, adding that such a move would make the service profitable for the national carrier. The Croatian government has the right to order its national carrier to launch flights between cities within the country if the service is deemed vital for socio-economic development. The decision must be respected regardless of whether the route is profitable or not. The CEO of Osijek Airport, Domagoj Marinić, who announced the Croatia Airlines service last summer, now says, “Osijek Airport is ready. In regards to possible launch dates it is up to Croatia Airlines”.
Osijek Airport has been struggling to attract flights since Ryanair gave the airport the flick several years ago. It will see charters to Stuttgart this Easter but lacks any scheduled flights. In 2012 the airport welcomed just over 2.000 passengers, down 90% on 2011. Croatia Airlines has a busy summer ahead as it plans to increase frequencies and add new seasonal and charter flights. However, it plans to operate services this summer with only twelve aircraft.
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