Croatian charter and cargo airline Trade Air is expanding its network with new domestic services and a proposal to acquire part of Croatia Airlines' regional operation.

Based at Pleso near Zagreb, Trade Air has linked with Osijek-Klisa Airport in eastern Croatia, to operate services from the region to Adriatic holiday resorts at Pula, Split and Zadar, as well as the country's capital Zagreb. Trade Air is operating at least 10 flights a week on behalf of the airport (which is handling reservation, marketing and sales), with its three Let L-410 UVP-E turboprops.

Before hostilities began 11 years ago, Klisa Airport was Yugoslavia's main cargo hub. Since its take-over by Croatian authorities in 1998, significant investment has been ploughed into the airport to revive it.

A large part of the airline's business in recent years has been generated by its DHL cargo contract for services between Zagreb and Bergamo. However, Trade Air is now in talks with Croatia Airlines on a possible takeover of its fleet of three ATR 42s and part of its regional network, as the national carrier moves towards an all-jet operation of Airbus A320 family and BAe 146 aircraft.

Trade Air's flight operations manager Marko Cvijin says that the type of co-operation between two companies is yet to be determined, but one option could be to codeshare on regional flights as well as to expand the network.

Meanwhile, Rijeka-based start-up Air Adriatic has postponed launch plans until next year, after failing to secure an air operator's certificate in time to begin services this year (Flight International, 19-25 February). Although deals with European tour operators had to be cancelled, Air Adriatic is operating once a week between Dubrovnik and Dublin using subchartered aircraft. Its single Boeing MD-82 has been leased to Avioimpex in Macedonia.

In another Croatian regional development, German-backed sea-plane operator European Coastal Airlines (ECA) is proposing a network of routes between Zagreb and points on the coastline and islands. ECA is planning "sea-airports" along the Croatian coastline and on the islands - but relevant permits from Croatian state and local authorities are still pending.

Source: Flight International