The blogs were abuzz last summer when RyanAir, the Irish no-frills, low-fare airline announced service to Istria from London’s Stansted Airport. This would not only allow travelers to get from the U.K. into northern Croatia for next to nothing, but it would also provide a link for Croatian businesses to establish relationships with London clients.
Recently however, RyanAir announced that it will be withdrawing its flights connecting Croatia with London at the end of October, and in fact canceling all flights out of Stansted Airport because of an increase in the travel tarif from 6 to 11 British pounds. Controversy comes with the fact that RyanAir received half a million pounds for five years of their flights and under the terms of the contract are not required to return any of it, despite only completing one year of the contract.
RyanAir’s year round flights to Pula three times a week was expected to extend the tourist season and bring in more money to Croatia’s economy. Losing flights like this would really pull the rug out from under Istria’s tourism industry, except that RyanAir’s typical clientele lack the purchasing power to drive any real upswing in the economy. Not only that, but the tourism infrastructure of Pula and Zadar are not equipped to host any more travelers than they already receive.
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Most airlines serve Croatia during the high-traffic summer months and then send their fleet elsewhere sometime in the fall. Airlines experience 80-90% occupancy during the April through October busy season; winter brings about 70% occupancy to the flights.
RyanAir will be transferring its fleet to compete in the high-profit Spain market with British Airline Easy Jet.
The very hurt-sounding Nacional magazine has the full-story on RyanAir’s break-up with Croatia.