Croatia’s Trade Air outlines growth plans

Croatian ACMI specialist Trade Air plans to further grow its fleet of five aircraft on the back of strong demand for wet-lease contracts. The airline’s CEO, Marko Cvijin, told “TTI Magazine”, “Currently, our fleet boasts five Airbus A320s and one A319. This summer, Trade Air is operating one aircraft in Montenegro, another serves for Croatia Airlines, and one flies out of Bergamo in Italy on behalf of a Maltese carrier”. He added, “In July 2023, Pratt and Whitney announced a major issue with its new geared turbofan (GTF) engine, as featured on A320neo and A321neo models. As this issue continues to affect the industry on a global scale, companies like Trade Air, operating Airbus models equipped with classic CFM International engines, are now experiencing increased demand. Thus, we anticipate further growth through 2025 and even 2026”.

Commenting on the airline’s future plans, Mr Cvijin said, “With all our aircraft capacity sold out since October 2023, I believe we are in a very strong position for the rest of the year. We do not typically exhaust our capacity so early, but because of the widespread lack of capacity, our clients started negotiating in advance. For instance, there is hardly any narrowbody capacity to rent on a semi lease for the summer, and the ones that are available are extremely costly. Looking at our long-term strategy, our five-year plan entails expanding our fleet with a couple more units. Nonetheless, the market’s instability, driven by current geopolitical issues, makes it difficult to plan beyond a year. Additionally, we are amid an economic slowdown, possibly on the verge of a recession, so my long-term forecasts might not be accurate. Still, I believe that for the time being, we should prioritise revenue growth and scale back investments until the geopolitical situation stabilises”.
Trade Air was impacted by the outbreak of the war in Israel, forcing it to terminate its ACMI contract with Israir, however, the airline hopes to renew its agreement with the airline once the situation in the region stabilises. The CEO noted, “Trade Air is quite fortunate to rely on a mobile operational model, unlike major carriers which fly from fixed hubs. In other words, we can move our base to capitalise on job opportunities anywhere. Amid the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, we have halted our operation in Israel, exploring new ventures in other places instead. I believe losing that contract was regrettable as we enjoyed working in Israel due to the significant demand for extra capacity there. However, once the situation stabilises, Trade Air will be looking forward to renewing that contract”.

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