LOT Polish Airlines has declined to comment on its potential takeover of Croatia Airlines but has said it is interested in further consolidation on the Central and East European aviation market. Speaking to the “SeeNews” portal, LOT spokesperson, Konrad Majszyk, said, “LOT is today the fastest growing airline in Europe and the only regular carrier from Central and Eastern Europe which has not only fallen or been taken over, but it is constantly profitable. After establishing a partnership with Nordica in Estonia, we are interested in further consolidation of the aviation market in Central and East Europe”. He added, “We do not comment on speculation about the possible takeover of Croatia Airlines”.
Polish media have recently reported that the Croatian government has invited LOT for talks following its interest in the purchase of a “significant stake” in the state-run company. Further reports suggest that although the government met with investment fund 4K Invest, which owns Adria Airways, to discuss Croatia Airlines’ future, the talks ended unsuccessfully. Last week LOT said, “Were LOT to take over another carrier, it would have to result in a rapid boost to our expansion. It is too early to comment on talks which have not started yet”. LOT carried over 6.8 million passengers in 2017, and by 2020 the company hopes to handle over ten million travellers per year.
The Polish carrier plans to grow its operations in Croatia and recently announced the upgrade of its Dubrovnik service which now becomes a year-round destination. In addition, it will maintain flights to Zagreb this coming winter at eight services per week, which are codeshared by Croatia Airlines. Elsewhere in the region, LOT will increase services to Belgrade to ten per week but has discontinued its codeshare partnership with Air Serbia on the route. The airline will also run services to Skopje past the summer months after upgrading the newly launched seasonal service to year-round operations. A total of four weekly flights will be maintained, while daily services will be operated to Ljubljana this winter and codeshared by Adria Airways.