Fleet growth and renewal for Croatian stalwart

Jadrolinija is Croatia’s largest passenger shipping company. Justin Merrigan chats to CEO and president of the management board, Alan Klanac

Fleet growth and renewal for Croatian stalwart
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2015 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review.

Founded in 1947 to connect major centres along the Croatian coast as well as numerous islands with the mainland, Jadrolinija was a successor of various small shipowners with links dating as far back as 1872.

Alan Klanac is a marine engineer who graduated in naval architecture, and has also worked as a consultant in the maritime and offshore field. Since his appointment, he has focused on further improving the line’s competitiveness and also on introducing new ships that embrace maximum compliance with environmental standards.

Jadrolinija’s Adriatic operation is divided into three districts: Rijeka, Zadar & Šibenik and Split & Dubrovnik. “We operate a fleet of 50 ships, including three large vessels for the international lines to Italy and seven high-speed passenger-only craft,” says Klanac. “The rest are the ferries, most of which are double-enders on shorter routes, typically of around 90 minutes in duration. Last year we carried 9,981,949 passengers and 2,530,434 vehicles on our ships. We have a number of ships that operate longer routes of up to five hours and these are day ferries.”

The fleet has an average age of 20 years and the company introduced four new ships in 2014. “We have strong plans for fleet renewal,” says Klanac. “In fact in the past 15 years we have either purchased or constructed a total of 17 ships and the plans for the future are to build but also to buy on the second-hand market to reduce waiting time for new tonnage.”

For now the focus is on the fleet and quay-to-quay transport, he says: “Our business is typically the transport of tourists in summer and this requires that in strong peaks we transport large numbers of passengers and vehicles without disruptions. We provide this service with a very small amount of infrastructure, most of which is related to berths. Terminals are still not present in Croatia; we are however hoping to start terminal operations. But this is some time in the future.”

The company has recently implemented a series of new products to the market that relate to e-business. “Online E-Jadrolinija sales mark the end of long queues at ticket offices thanks to the availability of pre-paid cards that ensure direct boarding,” says Klanac. “We plan to continue these activities in the years to come and of course we had to consider that without terminal facilities, which would normally allow an e-business to be implemented, we had to come up with a different solution to those currently on the market. We are proud of having developed such a sophisticated system; just a few ferry companies in Europe have anything similar.”

Jadrolinija is actively looking into alternative fuels. “We currently operate a fleet that runs on marine gas oil of less than 0.1 percent, so we run a very clean operation. We are however looking into LNG which could substitute for marine gas.” Like all operators, Jadrolinija must focus on three levels of regulatory inputs: national, European and international. “We take a very active role in Interferry and through this channel we hope we can attain a better influence to the changes proposed by Administrations,” says Klanac. “With a permanent place in IMO it is the best way to influence changes at the European and international level.”

Ongoing challenges include seasonality, which is a constant issue for Jadrolinija as a fully Adriatic-based company. “The Mediterranean is very much a tourist destination and this tends to be focused on the school holidays in July and August. Not only that but we have the weekend peaks too so daily traffic in summer might be bigger than monthly traffic in winter, causing problems with cash flow, capacity, staffing and crewing.”

Klanac also wants to exploit the changing habits of consumers. “They are travelling more and they want different experiences in the same period of time. So we are looking into that aspect to shape our business approach and models,” he says.

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Justin Merrigan
By Justin Merrigan
Thursday, December 24, 2015