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Croatia Airlines: Aegean Airlines and Air Nostrum submit bids

In the quiet holiday week at the end of Dec-2019 Aegean Airlines Group announced that it had made a non-binding indicative offer for Croatia Airlines. The Spanish regional airline Air Nostrum is also reported to have submitted a non-binding offer for the Zagreb-based airline.

The Croatian government is seeking partners in the privatisation of its national airline.

Croatia Airlines celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019, but has not kept pace with the rapid growth in demand for air transport to/from Croatia. Growth has been driven by airlines from elsewhere, particularly by LCCs. Croatia Airlines is still the country's biggest airline, but it is loss-making, has a high unit cost, and competition is strong.

Its fleet mix of A320s and Dash 8s matches Aegean Airline Group's equipment. In addition, the Greek group has experience of integrating an acquisition after buying Olympic Air in 2013.

Air Nostrum's Bombardier regional jets and ATR 72s are a less clear fit, although the Spanish airline currently operates some routes for Croatia Airlines. Air Nostrum is still working towards completing a merger with CityJet that would create Europe's largest independent regional airline.

Both options are likely to be of interest to the Croatian government.

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