Initial talks on establishing the route began in 2018. Mr Butković will also meet representatives from Chinese carriers. A final agreement on the new service is likely to be inked at this year's 16+1 CEEC - China summit in Dubrovnik in May, which will bring together sixteen Central and Eastern European nations and China.
"We are attempting to reach an agreement over nonstop flights between Zagreb, Beijing and Shanghai. Croatia has been recognised by Chinese tourists as an interesting new destination in Europe", Croatia's Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, said recently.
Despite growing demand, Croatia Airlines currently has no codeshare agreement in place with any Chinese carrier nor does it have a codeshare partnership with other airlines on flights to China. Hainan Airlines is said to be "very interested" in commencing flights to Croatia.
"We discussed the possibility of Hainan Airlines introducing nonstop flights from China to Croatia, most probably to Zagreb. The launch of this service would boost the number of Chinese tourists to Croatia", the Zagreb-based Chinese Southeast European Business Association, said recently.
Beijing Capital Airlines, which shares the same owner as Hainan Airlines, was to introduce services between Beijing and the Croatian capital over the 2017 summer season, however, the planned operations were later cancelled. Initially, the carrier filed for a permit for a two weekly service with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
Zagreb Airport recently noted, "We anticipate to finalise talks over the arrival of a Chinese carrier because Croatia is becoming of growing interest to Chinese tourists. There is also an increasing number of Chinese investments in Croatia and we believe that we will be able to find a common ground for the introduction of flights from a Chinese city".
Over 215.000 Chinese tourists visited Croatia last year, with numbers expected to further grow in 2019.
"This is primarily about simplifying and accelerating visa procedures, opening new routes and introducing new airlines from China, and adapting Croatian destinations to online payment services through Chinese mobile applications", the Croatian Minister for Tourism, Gari Capelli, said.