Given that after the announcement of the reintroduction of some routes, we received a large number of inquiries from our readers regarding international direct flights to Osijek, especially from and to London and Dublin, we will try to answer this question in the text that follows.
Osijek Airport has a relatively small international traffic compared to other airports in Croatia, and in the recent past it was directly connected with:
Basel (Wizz Air) te
Stuttgart and Cologne (Eurowings).
All these route are not currently operating, only one is announced, the one between Stuttgart and Osijek from the beginning of July, but Eurowings has not yet announced and confirmed its flight schedule for July, so it is likely that flights on this route will not start next month.
Ryanair and the saga with London flights
Ryanair operated for a long time on the route between Osijek and London (Stansted Airport), mostly twice a week with its B737-800 aircraft with a capacity of 189 passengers. Although the route was generally well filled, the company decided to discontinue it at the beginning of the 2017. summer flight schedule. The question is why. First of all, it should be clear that the occupancy of the passenger cabin (Load Factor) does not mean at the same time the profitability of the route itself. If the company sold 189 seats at a price of 20 euros, the airline will certainly not make a profit on it. This is just one detail in the whole story about the sustainability of a particular route, there are numerous operating costs (landing and parking fees at the airport, fueling, catering, paying cockpit and cabin staff, etc.) but income on the route itself is certainly very important.
If we assume that the Osijek - London route was profitable for this Irish low-cost airline, we must know that Ryanair operates throughout Europe and that its goal is not to be satisfied with marginal profitability on a route, and if so, it is very likely that the airline will cancel those routes and transfer capacity to another route where it already makes a solid profit and where their profits can be even higher by adding new flights and destinations or increasing existing ones.
What Ryanair also does, and what is very specific to this airline, is the fact that it asks the airports where it flies to pay subsidies, to cover the costs of advertising the destination itself on their official website. Airports generally agree to such a business strategy in order to attract the airline to the airport, and then, after some time, the airports no longer want to pay for that service and try to negotiate with Ryanair. And that is almost always unsuccessful. It is already known what Ryanair will do - cancel the routes and transfer its capacity to another airport. It happened several times across Europe, in much larger airports, so the same thing happened in Osijek Airport as well.
Will Ryanair return to Osijek on a route from London and Dublin, two cities to which a large number of Croatian citizens have moved in recent years, especially from the area that gravitates to Osijek Airport? The chances are slim. If the airport itself decides to motivate the airline with re-subsidies then we can be sure it will, but it is unlikely that the airport will decide to take such a step.
Why did Wizz Air cancel the route to Basel?
The Wizz Air route from Osijek to Basel was in operation for almost two years, at least twice a week, and in that period had an average cabin occupancy (Load Factor) of over 80%. It is generally expected that such occupancy should also mean the profitability of the route, but for low-cost airlines the percentage should be higher. Namely, for customers or passengers, it is very important to find a cheap price for a ticket, which is not a problem for an airline which will offer the lowest class with several very affordable tickets on almost every flight. The problem arises when the price becomes too high for passengers, and the company, if it does not sell them, will not make a profit on the route. In that case, only one thing happens - the route is canceled. This is exactly what happened with this route, despite the help of the tourist board and the reduced prices for parking and landing fees at the airport.
Will Eurowings fly to Stuttgart?
Eurowings still, as we mentioned earlier, have plan to run Stuttgart - Osijek flights from the beginning of July, but the company has not yet revised its July flight schedule. As we find out, the mentioned route (before the cancellation of departures in June) had very low booking, so the company canceled it for this month, and it will very likely happen with the flights in July.
Which routes can we expect this year from Osijek?
Osijek Airport will very likely have only domestic Trade Air and Croatia Airlines flights to Zagreb, Pula, Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik this year. The route to Zagreb allows passengers to continue their journey to many destinations in Europe with one transfer, but for most passengers the price offered by Croatia Airlines (especially to Dublin and London where a large number of Croatian citizens from this region live) is too high and demotivating so passengers are using surrounding airports (Budapest, Belgrade, even coastal airports: Zadar, Pula and Rijeka). The Croatian National Tourist Board (together with the local one), the city of Osijek, Osijek-Baranja County and the airport together must adopt a plan for the introduction and retention of international routes to Osijek, determine the key destinations (previously mentioned for sure!) and find an airline on the market which would be interested in operating flights with a certain subsidy. As long as there is no common position and action of these mentioned parties, the establishment of the route will not take place.