Croatia Airlines Orders Up To 15 Airbus A220-300s

Croatia Airlines Orders Up To 15 Airbus A220-300s

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Croatia Airlines has announced plans to refresh and simplify its fleet in a pretty exciting way. While the airline first revealed its intentions in early October, the order has now been finalized.

Croatia Airlines will exclusively fly A220s

Croatia Airlines plans to fly up to 15 Airbus A220-300s. This includes a firm order with Airbus for six of these jets, plus plans to lease an additional nine A220s, bringing the total commitment to 15 planes. By 2026, the Star Alliance airline intends to exclusively fly Airbus A220s, so the carrier is totally overhauling its fleet.

Here’s how Croatia Airlines CEO Jasmin Bajić describes this aircraft order:

“Today’s signing of a contract for the purchase of state-of-the-art Airbus aircraft is a very special moment for all of us at Croatia Airlines. It marks the beginning of a new period of aviation, a new period in the life of Croatia Airlines, a new period for our passengers, and a new period for Croatia’s tourism and economy as a whole.”

For context, Croatia Airlines currently has a fleet of 12 aircraft with an average fleet age of 17 years, including:

  • Five Airbus A319s, which are an average of ~22 years old, and can seat 144 people
  • One Airbus A320, which is ~21 years old, and can seat 174 people
  • Six De Havilland Dash 8-Q400s, which are an average of ~17 years old, and can seat 76 people
Croatia Airlines Airbus A320 cabin

At this point a fleet refresh seems appropriate, both in terms of the cost of maintaining old aircraft, as well as in terms of fuel efficiency.

The A220 is Airbus’ awesome jet that’s a bit smaller than the Airbus A320-family of aircraft. The plane is fuel efficient, long range, and the -300 variant can seat roughly 140 people, depending on the layout. From a passenger experience standpoint, this is probably the most comfortable narrow body aircraft, given the 2-3 layout, the huge windows, and the wide seats.

The Airbus A220 offers a great passenger experience

What a cool and bold fleet renewal!

Personally I love the concept of an airline having a fleet with just one type of plane. It’s great in terms of knowing what to expect (there won’t be a last minute aircraft swap), and it’s great in terms of operational reliability (swapping planes is easier, you have a bigger pool of reserve pilots, etc.). There’s something to be said for this type of efficiency, and it’s something that airBaltic has done quite well with in Europe, as a major all-A220 operator.

Admittedly this is a bit of a gamble, though. Currently Croatia Airlines has planes with capacity from 76 to 174 seats, so that’s quite a range. Meanwhile in the future, all Croatia Airlines planes will have a capacity around 140 seats.

For most markets that will probably work, though there are certainly situations where the A220 may not offer enough capacity, while there are other situations where the A220 may offer too much capacity. I’d think the synergies of having a single aircraft type will largely make up for that.

I do wonder if Croatia Airlines will be forced to cut any destinations because of this change, as the A220 isn’t necessarily able to operate to some of the smaller airports that the Q400 can operate to. Quickly glancing at the list of Croatia Airlines destinations, I don’t see any obvious airports where this should be an issue, but it’s possible I’m missing something.

airBaltic is a big Airbus A220 operator

Bottom line

Croatia Airlines plans to acquire up to 15 Airbus A220-300s, including a direct order for six planes, plus plans to lease nine additional planes. By 2026, the airline plans to exclusively operate the A220, meaning that all existing A320-family and Dash 8 Q400 aircraft will be retired. Croatia Airlines’ fleet is getting old, so it’s nice to see that the airline has chosen such a capable jet for its fleet renewal.

What do you make of Croatia Airlines’ Airbus A220 order?

Conversations (12)
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  1. maxi4492 Guest

    For in-country routs it'll be a bit to bit, they lack frequency and capacity won't make that up.
    Plus most of those are PSO, so bread and butter of CA.
    And financially it'll be fun to see how do they plan to finance those birds since they scraped rock bottom long time ago and are now in the buisnis of digging financial disaster.
    Shame for such a company to fall so low.

  2. Matthew Guest

    They were in talks with Embraer. Why did they choose Airbus instead?

    1. Gilbert Guest

      Embraer is a terrible choice quality wise.

  3. Steerage Guest

    Changing the equipment is fine.
    To be successful in the long run, the mindset of management must change from that of a flag carrier to that of a regional competitor like that of airBaltic.
    Also, performing wet lease service; charter work; and certification as an A220 MRO base would draw in supplement revenue while maintaining crew proficiency.

  4. J_inParis Guest

    They can still fly to very small airports... SWISS has replaced its helvetic propeler planes to London City Airport with the a220 for instance. The a220 runaway requirements are only 4800 feet vs. 4700 feet for a dash 8 400.

  5. David Guest

    Croatia is obviously a very seasonal destination and during peak season they also lease a number of aircraft to keep up with the increased demand and much larger route network. So even though all of the actual "Croatia Airlines" planes will be the same, there will probably be some diversity with the seasonal leases. Good for them though, they are generally a good airline and provide good and reliable service around Europe.

  6. XPL Diamond

    Waiting for Boeing to file a dumping petition.

  7. Nate nate Guest

    I flew on a Dash 8 Q400 from Zurich-Dubruvnik, so they were flying the Q400 on some of their most important routes connecting *A hubs to their prime domestic destinations. Takeaway -- they weren't using those Q400 for domestic routes. Their route network really just needs to be connecting Zagreb, Dubruvnik and perhaps a few other Croatian cities with the major hub airports of Europe to facilitate tourism. Internally, the ferries provide decent connectivity (except...

    I flew on a Dash 8 Q400 from Zurich-Dubruvnik, so they were flying the Q400 on some of their most important routes connecting *A hubs to their prime domestic destinations. Takeaway -- they weren't using those Q400 for domestic routes. Their route network really just needs to be connecting Zagreb, Dubruvnik and perhaps a few other Croatian cities with the major hub airports of Europe to facilitate tourism. Internally, the ferries provide decent connectivity (except inland from Zagreb of course). Let the gaps be filled by EasyJet and RyanAir.

  8. JS Guest

    I bet Croatia Airlines has studied airBaltic's experiences closely, because the gamble is quite similar. airBaltic had a fleet of Q400 / 733 / 735 before their transition to A220 only. Admittedly the retirement of the Dash 8 fleet happened earlier than planned due to the pandemic.

  9. Croatian Guest

    Actually it will also shrink significantly. Plans are to order only 6 A220s and retire all other planes. Major reason for A220 is the fact that CA had order of 6 A320 already for 14 years but was not keen to take them. This way they will not loose the deposit of 10 million Euros Also CA is loss making for years and this makes sense as their traffic is highly seasonal.

  10. Ben Holz Guest

    Sounds like a potentially good change to me. Their A319s have awful legroom (up there with IB) and having flown their turboprops twice in peak summer season, I've had to gate check my hand luggage both times. I hope this doesn't result in some of their ex-SPU/RJK/ZAD international routes getting axed (even if they have a partnership, it's nice to have another airline to keep LH at place lol)

  11. Tim Dunn Diamond

    With just one A320, the A220 fits very well within the size of their current fleet. Given that both versions of the A220 are far more economical than their similarly sized competitors, they will cut their operating costs by making the switch. The chances are high that they can operate an A220 cheaper than smaller aircraft.

    The only thing that is hindering the A220 from getting more sales is that Bombardier didn't have the production...

    With just one A320, the A220 fits very well within the size of their current fleet. Given that both versions of the A220 are far more economical than their similarly sized competitors, they will cut their operating costs by making the switch. The chances are high that they can operate an A220 cheaper than smaller aircraft.

    The only thing that is hindering the A220 from getting more sales is that Bombardier didn't have the production capability to do so - and that is why Airbus inherited a treasure. Bombardier did all of the hard work; Airbus just has to produce and sell it.

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Tim Dunn Diamond

With just one A320, the A220 fits very well within the size of their current fleet. Given that both versions of the A220 are far more economical than their similarly sized competitors, they will cut their operating costs by making the switch. The chances are high that they can operate an A220 cheaper than smaller aircraft. The only thing that is hindering the A220 from getting more sales is that Bombardier didn't have the production capability to do so - and that is why Airbus inherited a treasure. Bombardier did all of the hard work; Airbus just has to produce and sell it.

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Gilbert Guest

Embraer is a terrible choice quality wise.

0
maxi4492 Guest

For in-country routs it'll be a bit to bit, they lack frequency and capacity won't make that up. Plus most of those are PSO, so bread and butter of CA. And financially it'll be fun to see how do they plan to finance those birds since they scraped rock bottom long time ago and are now in the buisnis of digging financial disaster. Shame for such a company to fall so low.

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