ETF Airways (LI, Zagreb) received its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) from the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (CCAA) on May 28, 2021, and took delivery of its first B737-800 ahead of what it hopes to be a busy summer season.

9A-LAB (msn 30882), a 20.4-year-old aircraft owned by AerCap and formerly operated by ASL Airlines France, was ferried after maintenance from Belgrade to Pula on May 22. On May 28, the airline flew the Boeing narrowbody to Zadar and Zagreb before returning to Pula, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows.

The start-up expects the delivery of its second B737, due to be 9A-ABC (msn 30667), in early June 2021. The 17.4-year-old aircraft will also be dry-leased from AerCap. A third B737 is under negotiations for potential delivery in 2022.

ETF Airways will initially focus on the ACMI/charter market outside Croatia. It hopes to see demand for leisure flights rebound quickly once vaccinations and coordinated bureaucracy allow European countries to abolish restrictions for intra-bloc travel.

"The market is recovering quickly after the spring easing of the pandemic. The demand for our services outside Croatia is growing above our expectations," Chief Executive Stjepan Bedić claimed during a presentation of the aircraft at Pula airport.

The airline does not plan to avoid operating to and from Croatia completely and will also seek opportunities in its home market. However, it will not engage in head-to-head rivalry with low-cost carriers, including Ryanair, which has a strong presence in Croatia.

"The world is big, but we are primarily a Croatian company. Understandably, the pandemic and focus on vehicle-driving tourists have hindered investments in the development of air links with more remote tourist-generating markets such as Northern Europe, Russia or Israel. I am certain that, in the coming years, we’ll be opening new markets and generating new values together, thus contributing to Croatian tourism’s evolution," deputy chairman and investor Velimir Šonje said.