Zagreb welcomes millionth passenger as fresh problems arise with the French
Zagreb Airport yesterday handled its millionth passenger for the year, a day ahead of 2012. The millionth passenger, Marija Maras, was booked on a Croatia Airlines flight to Brussels. She has received a 200 euro duty free voucher as well as two Croatia Airlines return tickets to any destination in the carrier’s European network. In the first five months of the year, Croatia’s busiest airport welcomed 833.640 travellers, an increase of 2.8% compared to the same period last year. Strong growth from earlier on in the year has been somewhat derailed by the Croatia Airlines strike staged last month.
Meanwhile, the French operator, which forms part of the Zagreb International Airport Company (ZAIC) consortium, has once again cancelled the official takeover of Zagreb Airport. The takeover was to occur this month, which would allow the operators to begin construction of a new multi million terminal in September. According to the official contract, ZAIC was originally meant to take control of Zagreb Airport by April at the latest. The main reason behind the latest delay is ZAIC’s failure to secure a 120 million euro loan from the European Investment Bank, which would be utilised for the construction of the new terminal. The bank has requested government guarantees the loan will be paid back, however, the Croatian government has rejected the possibility of giving such guarantees.
Zagreb Airport is also facing a drop in income. As the country gears up towards European Union membership, airlines operating from European Union member states will be treated as domestic carriers from July 1, decreasing taxes. Such a move will be warmly welcomed by passengers but will cause some shortfalls in the finance books. The Croatian daily “Večenji list” says it is unlikely that the French led ZAIC will now takeover Zagreb Airport by October this year.