The Croatian government has invited LOT Polish Airlines to commence talks over the takeover of a “significant stake” in Croatia Airlines. According to Poland’s “Rzeczpospolita” daily, the first meeting between the two sides will be held this summer. “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”, a LOT spokesperson said. He added, “We are currently focused on building an airline hub in Warsaw and a base in Budapest. Moreover, we want to extend our cooperation with Nordica”.
Last month, the President of the Croatia Airlines Supervisory Board, Zlatko Mateša, hinted at Polish interest in the carrier, noting that a European partner would be ideal as it could take over a majority stake in line with European Union regulations. LOT currently maintains double daily flights between its hub in Warsaw and Zagreb, as well as seasonal services to Dubrovnik, Split, Pula and Zadar. It also has a codeshare agreement in place with fellow Star Alliance member Croatia Airlines. The Polish carrier recently expanded its operations in the region, commencing flights from Budapest to New York and Chicago, which will be followed up by services to London City next year. In 2017, LOT carried over 6.8 million passengers, and by 2020 the company hopes to handle over ten million travellers per year.
In April, the Croatian government announced plans to privatise its national carrier after adopting a National Reform Program for 2018 aimed at boosting economic growth. It noted that following the successful completion of Croatia Airlines’ restructuring process, the carrier’s future would be more secure with a strategic partner. Following the completion of its restructuring process in 2015, the airline has seen its passenger numbers and profit margins grow. It has also expanded its destination network, with more routes added this summer for a third consecutive year. On January 1, the airline completed the two-year monitoring of the implemented restructuring plan.