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
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.
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.
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?