Details about Croatia Airlines’ first A220

Although originally planned for June, the delivery of the first of the 15 ordered Airbus A220s for Croatia Airlines has been postponed to July. In response to an inquiry, the national airline confirmed to AvioRadar: “Delivery of the first new Airbus A220 aircraft is expected in July this year, with the immediate start of commercial use.”

The first aircraft, with registration 9A-CAE and serial number MSN 55290, will be named “Zagreb.” This means there will be two aircraft named after the Croatian capital in the CTN fleet, as the Airbus A319 with registration 9A-CTH also bears the same name. As of June 1st, the aircraft was not yet listed in the publicly available register of the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (CCAA).

Croatia Airlines also confirmed that the first flight will operate on the Zagreb-Frankfurt route. During the initial phase of its introduction into service, the aircraft will primarily fly the Zagreb-Frankfurt-Split-Frankfurt-Zagreb rotation. CTN further stated to AvioRadar: “The inaugural promotional flight will be scheduled immediately upon the aircraft’s arrival in Croatia. The first commercial international flight is planned for the Zagreb-Frankfurt route, mirroring the company’s first international flight in 1992, which began connecting Croatia with the world via air traffic. During the initial period of commercial use, the aircraft is expected to operate on the Zagreb-Frankfurt-Split-Frankfurt-Zagreb rotation, as well as on other commercial routes.”

Although the public is speculating about the value of the contract for the complete renewal of the fleet, both Airbus and Croatia Airlines are calling for confidentiality, not disclosing the commercial value of the acquired aircraft. Additionally, they state that all new aircraft ordered (13 A220-300 and 2 A220-100) will be financed through operating leasing for a period of 12 years. Operational leasing by definition means that after the end of the contracted period, the carrier can buy the aircraft at a price defined by the leasing company, or return the aircraft to the owner. Also, it is possible to extend the leasing under different conditions than originally agreed. According to the leasing arrangement, Croatia Airlines does not become the owner of the aircraft, and upon completion of the fleet renewal, CTN will be a carrier without owned aircraft (as it is now, after the sale-and-lease-back agreement for the sale of Airbus).

Croatia Airlines has contracted the purchase of 15 Airbus A220s, which should be delivered by 2027. They were contracted according to the model of operating leasing from a total of three leasing companies: Air Lease Corporation (6 aircraft), Azzora (three aircraft), and Griffin Global Asset Management (6 aircraft, which were transferred from a direct order to a leasing company).

The Airbus A220-100 (127-seat capacity) and A220-300 (149-seat capacity) will offer passengers Wi-Fi on board for the first time in CTN’s history, using Panasonic’s IFEC system, which is considered the world leader in the field. In addition, passengers will have available USB A and C chargers at each seat, along with holders for smartphones and tablets. Croatia Airlines is also working on developing its own application and software solution for the aforementioned system. As confirmed to AvioRadar at the 2023 Paris Air Show, the new Airbuses for CTN will be equipped with Airspace XL luggage compartments, which will be able to hold an average of 19 more cabin cases than the original compartments. However, they will be installed on aircraft that will be delivered in 2025, when Airbus will certify those compartments. It is not known if the earlier delivered aircraft will be retrofitted with Airspace XL compartments.

Finally, it is to be expected that the carrier will have to make certain changes in the flight schedule with the arrival of new aircraft, especially in the next two years when DHC 8-400 aircraft are expected to leave the fleet. Namely, the listed aircraft have a capacity of 76 seats, while the A220-100 has 127 seats. In addition, only two smaller versions of the aircraft (series -100) are ordered.

In addition to all of the above, an official presentation of the company’s rebranding, i.e. the presentation of the new visual identity and livery of the aircraft, in which all new A220s should be delivered, is set for June 18th.

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