Emirates undecided over Zagreb return

Emirates, the world's largest long haul airline, expects to return to 100% of operations and network capacity in 2023 as demand for travel and tourism recovers, however, no final decision has been made concerning the resumption of its seasonal service to Zagreb. Flights to the Croatian capital were discontinued in 2020 at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Emirates' Chief Operating Officer, Adnan Kazim, noted that next year will be a “milestone” in terms of getting back to the level of operations where the airline had left it before the coronavirus pandemic. The carrier is operating at 70% of its pre-pandemic capacity at the moment, which will increase to 80% before the end of the summer, he added.

Emirates said that while it is recovering quickly from the pandemic and capacity should return to pre-Covid levels next year, no final decision has been made concerning its Zagreb operations. “We hope to restart our operations in Zagreb when it is commercially and operationally feasible to do so in the future, and we will make a formal announcement if there are any developments in this regard”, the airline said. Flydubai, which has served as Emirates’ replacement on the route since this summer, has scheduled flights to the Croatian capital into the 2023 summer season, which begins next March.

Emirates operated its last seasonal service to Zagreb in October 2019 and announced the route’s termination until further notice a year later. In addition, the carrier closed its sales office in Zagreb. Emirates initially launched daily year-round operations to the Croatian capital in the summer of 2017 with its Boeing 777 aircraft. However, the flights were downgraded to seasonal the following year and a route-sharing agreement was concluded with Flydubai, where the hybrid carrier maintained services over the winter, while Emirates ran flights over the summer. Emirates and Flydubai jointly handled 130.937 passengers between Dubai and Zagreb in 2019. That year, Emirates was the fifth largest transfer airline operating out of Zagreb Airport, behind Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Croatia Airlines and Turkish Airlines. It was the second busiest airline in Zagreb for connecting passengers to and from Asia, as well as from Australia with 23% of the transfer market, behind Qatar Airways. The route relied heavily on transfer passengers from Far East Asia and Australia.

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