|Dubrovnik on plans, cooperation with Lufthansa and Air Serbia and long haul flights|
Dubrovnik Airport’s Commercial Manager and Deputy Director General, as well as officials from the City of Dubrovnik have spoken to EX-YU Aviation News and revealed some of their future plans for Croatia’s third busiest airport, which continues to maintain solid passenger growth following last year’s record breaking performance. Some of the issues discussed include potential long haul charter flights, Croatia Airlines’ decision to cut down its operations during the winter, plans for its new terminal, as well as a range of other topics. Commercial Manager and Deputy Director General at Dubrovnik Airport, Frano Luetić, says all conditions must be met for the launch of regular seasonal long haul flights from Dubrovnik. Mr. Luetić confirmed there was interest last year from Chinese carriers but these did not materialise. Only recently, American Airlines began codesharing on Iberia flights from Madrid to Dubrovnik while US Airways added its codes on British Airways flights from London. US tourists now rank fifth by visits to Dubrovnik and future flights to the United States could prove popular. During the 1980s, Pan Am operated summer services from the States to the seaside city.
|Future look of Dubrovnik Airport (visual)|
Winter months have proven difficult for the airport as it handles 85% of its total annual traffic during the high summer season. The situation has been made worse by Croatia Airlines’ decision to cut down on destinations and frequencies from October through to March. “We will see how things work out with Croatia Airlines. So far, the schedule for the 2014/15 winter season has not been finalised”. Mr. Luetić adds the airport is trying to stimulate airlines to maintain year long flights to Dubrovnik by lowering handling and landing fees during the winter months. “We hope Air Serbia will continue flying during the winter as it provides a significant number of transit passengers. We are very happy with our cooperation with Air Serbia and are in discussion about future flights”, Mr. Luetić says. In addition, the Deputy Director General notes that Turkish Airlines intended to operate scheduled services from Istanbul to Dubrovnik, however, the airline decided against the move later on. On the other hand, Romana Vlašić, head of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, says the city is now turning to new partners following Croatia Airlines’ decision to rationalise its Dubrovnik operations. “We are currently in talks with Lufthansa. We need to connect Dubrovnik with international hubs to maintain passenger flow throughout the year”, Ms. Vlašić says. The German national carrier currently operates flights from Frankfurt and Munich to Dubrovnik, while its subsidiary, Germanwings, maintains services from Berlin, Cologne, Hannover, Hamburg and Stuttgart. In 2013, Lufthansa alone was the fourth busiest airline operating out of Dubrovnik handling some 80.000 passengers on 718 flights. It was behind only Croatia Airlines, easyJet and Norwegian Air Shuttle. During the winter, the airport is served only by two airlines to three destinations - Croatia Airlines to Zagreb and Rome and British Airways to London.
|Dubrovnik Airport to become first in Croatia to feature air bridges|
Despite woes with its national carrier, Dubrovnik Airport is content with its current performance. “We hope that in the next five years we will handle 2.5 million passengers on an annual basis. Our results are directly linked to the number of tourists visiting Dubrovnik. We currently have some fifty airlines operating to the city of which 50% are low cost carriers, 30% are legacy carriers, while charter and business aviation accounts for 20% of traffic”, Mr. Luetić explains. Currently, the airport has no plans to follow Zadar Airport’s example and provide subsidies to the likes of Ryanair in order for the airline to set up a seasonal summer base. In order to accommodate rising passenger numbers, Dubrovnik has begun expanding its terminal building. It expects to finance 70% of the construction work from European Union funds. The project involves the extension of the terminal, including the installation of air bridges, construction of a new administrative building, as well as catering and cargo facilities. Dubrovnik Airport has confirmed earlier reports published by EX-YU Aviation News that it will become the first in Croatia to feature air bridges. An agreement has already been signed for their purchase and the air bridges will be installed by the end of the year. Dubrovnik Airport opened a brand new terminal, Croatia’s most modern, in 2010. It stretches over 13.700 square metres and has the capacity to handle two million passengers per year.