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A Pragusa.One Airbus A330-300 (Photo: Pragusa.One)

A Pragusa.One Airbus A330-300 (Photo: Pragusa.One)

Pragusa.One Unveils Flights to Los Angeles and New York

On Sunday, Pragusa.One — a Coration charger airline whose name includes inspiration from the city of Prague and the Croatian term for the country’s capital Dubrovnik, which is Ragusa — confirmed the start of its inaugural flights. The startup, which had been preparing to launch flights out of Dubrovnik, Croatia, announced its plan to commence seasonal flights to the U.S. in June 2021.

Specifically, the airline unveiled plans to start flights to Newark Liberty and Los Angeles, beginning on June 21 and June 22, respectively. Services to Newark Liberty will be operated three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, while services to Los Angeles will be three times per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

To operate these flights, Pragusa.One will use a wet-leased Airbus A330-300 aircraft with 281 seats on its Newark flights and a wet-leased Airbus A340 aircraft with 263 seats on its Los Angeles flights. A rendering of the airline’s paint scheme resembles HiFly’s livery, implying that they could be the lessors behind the deal.

In total, the Dubrovnik-based carrier plans to offer 15,700 seats on flights to Newark and 14,700 seats on flights to Los Angeles. These flights will run through the end of October 2021, with ticket sales starting on May 24, 2021.

On flights to Newark Liberty, Pragusa.One will face head-to-head competition with the only U.S. airline serving Dubrovnik: United Airlines. The Newark-hub carrier unveiled plans to fly to the coastal Croatian town three times per week amid loosened restrictions for vaccinated US travelers hoping to vacation in Croatia. With the low frequency at which United Airlines is commencing flights, one may wonder whether two carriers are viable on the route, especially during a global health crisis. Pre-pandemic, American Airlines operated a flight from Philadelphia to Dubrovnik, though it was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

“We worked hard since summer 2020 to create this unique product for avid travelers that are ready and steady to fly abroad,” Pragusa.One managing director Krešimir Budinski said. “Point-to-point flight operations bundled with a full travel package and premium in-flight service are key success factors for the ultimate travel experience in the future. The US market represents one of the focus markets for Pragusa.One.”

Premium Business Model

In Pragusa.One’s initial announcement in March, the airline announced an ambitious business model centered around a full premium economy aircraft. At the time, the airline planned to launch a network of eight cities worldwide via hubs in Prague, Czech Republic and Dubrovnik. These cities included Beijing, Chengdu, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, New York, Singapore and Tokyo.

Budinski added that the company would start initially as a tour operator, offering seven- and 14-day tours from its hubs in Prague and Dubrovnik, hoping to combine the tour and flight aspect of its business.  Additionally, Pragusa.One is working on acquiring an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) in Croatia.

“We are going to start as a travel agency, but in the next three years, we will make the transition towards becoming an airline, since AOC [Air Operator’s Certificate] certification will take some time,” Budinski said. “In Croatia, we are going to apply for an AOC which will take ten to twelve months. Until then, we will operate with our partner on a full charter basis.”

Currently, the airline is in advanced negotiations to receive two Airbus A350 aircraft, which they will then own entirely and will outfit with a complete premium economy product by 2024. However, Pragusa.One’s fleet of wet-leased aircraft will serve them until then.

European Startups

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, airline startups are looking to profit in areas they believe are not well serviced, amid high demand. For example, Norse Atlantic Airways, backed by two executives that launched Norwegian’s long-haul portfolio, plans to launch low-cost transatlantic flights.

Additionally, low-cost carrier Norwegian startup Flyr unveiled plans to launch domestic flights on June 30 via its base in Oslo.

Winston Shek
Winston Shek
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