US airline Delta is soon expected to expand at London Heathrow.
Although Delta is keeping quiet, today’s media reports from Croatia say that the US carrier is to pay Croatia Airlines $19.5 million for five Heathrow slots.
The news was confirmed by the airline’s CEO Kresimir Kucko.
According to Croatia Week, Delta will be acquiring Croatia Airlines’ mid-morning slots on five days of the week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
The carrier’s CEO was quoted as being happy with the sale, saying that “We are extremely satisfied with this business and achieved our goal.”
Croatia Airlines will maintain its afternoon slots at Heathrow which are available on four days of the week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
As Business Traveller reported last October, Croatia Airlines needs the money from the slot sale to pay down its debts and to invest in fleet maintenance.
It’s understood that on this one route alone (Zagreb-London) the airline has lost €37.5 million since 2002.
But the price of $19.5 million seems somewhat inexpensive when you consider that Oman Air paid Kenya Airways no less than $75 million to obtain the latter’s prized early morning Heathrow slot.
It remains to be seen whether or not Croatia Airlines will, in the long-term continue to operate at Heathrow. It could depend on slot prices.
If prices rise the Zagreb-based airline may be tempted to sell its remaining Heathrow slots and move to Gatwick (from where it already operates a number of services to Croatia).
When the deal is concluded Delta will be able to use the slots from April 1.