The first passenger plane Boeing 737-800 with 189 seats of the new Croatian airline ETF Airways was presented at the end of May at Pula Airport.
EFT Airways is a new airline in the Republic of Croatia founded in 2020, when the first permanent contract was signed to connect destinations in Southeast Europe with various destinations throughout the European Union, thus officially starting the business of the new Croatian airline. It is important to emphasize that this is a Croatian company.
ETF Airways is not a regular carrier, but its business is oriented towards charter flights i lease agreements for their own aircraft, ie. providing flights to other companies. The company is entering the first season of operations with two aircraft Boeing.
"The market recovered quickly after the pandemic receded in the spring. " said the CEO of ETF Airways Stjepan Bedić and added that the demand for their services outside Croatia is growing above expectations. “We were even a little surprised, but we have a great team that coped with the challenge and prepared the company for the first operating season with two Boeing planes. This is the first time in the last three decades that a Boeing aircraft has entered the regional market ", Bedić points out and emphasizes that this is the first time in the past thirty years that Boeing has appeared on the market of the region.
ETF Airways will operate two aircraft this season (the arrival of the second Boeing aircraft is expected in early June), and negotiations are already underway to purchase a third aircraft for 2022. Namely, the airline plans to expand its fleet to seven aircraft by 2025.
The ETF Airways is run by three experienced experts who are also board members: Stjepan Bedić, Marko Banković and Dragan Stefanovski. The main investors and members of the company's supervisory board are recognized long-term financial experts Ratko Bajakić and Zdenko Adrović. Velimir Šonje, a recognized economist, is the deputy chairman of the supervisory board and also an investor.
Ratko Bajakić, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, said that last year's disturbance in the air market created some new opportunities for which he supported ETF Airways with the capital of his ICF: "Civil aviation is a very demanding business in terms of capital and, at normal times, entering such a competitive market is not easy. However, the terms of the lease of large airlines suddenly relaxed after most of the global fleet was grounded. We managed to negotiate very good leasing terms, which is a springboard for further business expansion. We believe that we have the best management, dedicated and motivated employees who, with the support of investors, will realize the company's ambitious business plan. "
It is almost impossible for smaller companies to compete with giants like Ryanair or Lufthansa, said board member Marko Bankovic, but stressed that the market has many niches, some of which are related to tourism, with enough space for companies like theirs.
The company has already signed its first permanent contract - connecting EU destinations with non-EU Southeast European countries.
The fact that ETF Airways has started operating outside Croatia does not mean that it will not become an important air link for Croatia. “The world is big, but we are primarily a Croatian company", He said Velimir Šonje and added that it is understandable that the pandemic and the focus on auto tourists have hampered investment in the development of air connections with more distant markets that generate tourists, such as northern Europe, Russia or Israel.
"Charter planes are as indispensable as airways and we are confident that new markets and air connections with passengers of greater purchasing power will open up more and more in the coming years. Line charters can extend the tourist season and thus strengthen Croatian tourism. We are a natural partner to major tour operators, hotel owners and destinations with advanced tourism development strategies. Therefore, I am sure that in the coming years we will open new markets together and create new values, thus contributing to the evolution of Croatian tourism into a tourism industry with higher added value. We are ready ", Said Sonje.
In the future, ETF Airways plans to base its second aircraft in Dubrovnik and operate on charter routes from European destinations to Croatian airports, thus supporting the development of Croatian tourism.
Apology to the readers: The editorial board of the HrTurizam.hr portal apologizes to the readers for conveying this important news for our tourism sector, ie the launch of a new Croatian airline, with a delay of one week.