|Brač Airport anticipates busy summer in 2015|
The Croatian island airport of Brač, which has struggled to attract notable passenger numbers since it opened for commercial use 21 years ago, is looking to place its self back on the map and attract new flights next summer, setting its sights on services to Belgrade. With a new CEO in place, the airport is also aiming to serve low cost airlines. Tonči Peović, who ran Dubrovnik Airport for sixteen years from 1993 to 2009, and Zagreb Airport from 2009 until its takeover by the French last year, was named as Brač Airport’s new CEO last month. Mr. Peović is considered an export in airport management, having been credited for restoring Dubrovnik Airport following the war and running Zagreb Airport during the financial crisis. The new CEO believes Brač Airport could handle some 50.000 passengers per year. “If you look at 1997, when Brač handled 31.634 passengers, its busiest year on record, then 50.000 seems like a reachable target compared to the 12.000 passengers being handled over the past few years”, Mr. Peović says.
Late last year, Croatian airline Trade Air launched domestic shuttle flights between Osijek, Rijeka, Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik. Mr. Peović believes Brač Airport could be added to the network and would be popular with tourists from Dubrovnik and Split. One of the airport’s priorities is to lengthen its runway so it could handle larger jets. “One day we will lengthen the runway using EU funds but until then we will do everything to increase our passenger numbers. We are interested in Belgrade, not just because of Serbian tourists but also because Jat was purchased by Etihad Airways from the Middle East. Jat has ATR72 aircraft in its fleet, which can land on our runway. In partnership with Etihad, a considerable number of transit passengers could use this route from faraway places such as Dubai, India, South Korea, Australia and Singapore”, Mr. Peović says. The airport is also keen to attract European Coastal Airlines, which recently launched flights between the Croatian mainland and the island of Hvar.
Brač Airport opened on May 22, 1993 and is Croatia’s youngest commercial airport. It has faced financial problems which peaked last year when it was suggested the airport could be closed. Croatia Airlines maintains seasonal flights between Brač and Zagreb, while Austrian Airlines also operates seasonal services to the island from Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz. Brač Airport also enjoys numerous charters during the summer months, however, it is not in use during the winter. In 2013, the airport handled only 9.433 passengers, its lowest in years. During the first half of 2014, 3.491 passengers passed through its doors.