Croatia Airlines and Aegean renew strategic partnership negotiations
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said negotiations between Croatia Airlines and Aegean Airlines of Greece on a strategic partnership agreement will be renewed in the coming months. The comments were made following talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens over the weekend. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Croatian government had set a deadline to privatize or recapitalize its national airline by June 2020, however, the target was dropped at the onset of the global health emergency. Greek Aegean Airlines and Spanish regional carrier Air Nostrum had both expressed interest in acquiring shares in Croatia Airlines at the time.
Last January, Aegean said: “Any major decisions on whether or not the company will participate in the next phase of [Croatia Airlines’] privatization process will be undertaken in the coming months, after the provision of information and discussions, in accordance with the procedure set by the Republic of Croatia. ”The next phase of the process was to involve the government in the announcement of a bidding for the bids and indicating how many shares he was willing to sell in the company. He previously indicated he would offer up to 70% stake. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic , the Croatian government has provided financial support to its national airline, while Aegean Airlines has ended its service between Athens and Zagreb. However, the Croatian carrier faces increasing pressure on its main base with the carrier low cost Ryanair which is growing at a rapid pace.
At the end of last year, Croatia’s Minister of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, said the government would resume the process of privatizing Croatia Airlines once the coronavirus crisis stabilized. “When the situation begins to improve and normalize, we will resume the search for a strategic partner. There was interest, it’s not like nobody is watching Croatia Airlines, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer, ”Mr Butković said at the time. The Croatian carrier recently called on the services of the Boston Consulting Group to draft its post-Covid strategy, which calls for fleet renewal and network optimization. Croatia Airlines has previously said both would only be possible with a strategic partner.