Croatia Airlines and European multinational aerospace corporation Airbus started negotiations over the cancellation of four A320neo aircraft orders. Even though the flag carrier of Croatia has already made € 8.5 million in advanced payments for the order, the airline now wants to discontinue the deal for the 2nd time.
The carrier‘s aircraft technicians had begun training for servicing the two engine types used on the jet earlier in August 2019. The first batch of the two A320neos had to be delivered in 2022, while the other two jets were postponed to arrive a year later, in 2023.
Croatia Airlines initiated negotiations to terminate the deal just before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The airline revealed that it wants to cancel the whole A320neo order. “The use of the deposit for other Airbus services are also currently on hold due to COVID-19”, explained the company.
Before ordering the A320neos in 2015, Croatia Airlines had made a deal on four A319 in 2008, but succeeded to convert it to the new engine option. Although the new aircraft initially had to arrive by the end of 2013, the delivery was put on hold and the deal was renegotiated once again.
The main reason why the carrier suspended the delivery of new-generation engine aircraft, could become the complicated financial situation of the company at the time and repeated again due to COVID-19.
The current average age of Croatia Airlines’ fleet, consisting of five A319s, two A320s and six Dash 8 Q400 turboprops, amounts to 15.7 years, based on airfleets.net data. For comparison, according to planespotters.net, out of 255 carriers operating the A320 aircraft, Croatia Airlines ranks 223rd in terms of the age of the aircrafts, while out of the 125 A319 operators, the Croatian carrier ranks 113th in the world.
According to Croatia Airlines‘ business development plan (2020 – 2025), it intends on renewing its fleet with mid-age A319 and A320 aircraft, as well as replacing wet-leases with long-term dry-leases.
Although neither Airbus nor Croatia Airlines have disclosed the exact value of the deal, the four had-to-be-delivered A320neos jets were valued at €360 million at the Airbus price list at the time.