|Split and Dubrovnik anticipate another strong year|
The airports in Split and Dubrovnik are set to handle a record number of passengers this year, with the trend expected to continue into 2016 as airlines commit to operating more flights to the two cities on the Croatian coast. The former Yugoslavia's third and fourth busiest airports will see additional services from the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia next year, the Croatian Tourism Board (HTZ) said following talks with airline representatives. The HTZ held talks with SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Germanwings and British Airways over their plans for the Croatian market for next year and 2017. Both Split and Dubrovnik airports have already handled over one million passengers this year and have benefited from the instability in Northern Africa, which has driven more tourists to south eastern Europe.
SAS Scandinavian, Thomson Airways, easyJet, Air Berlin and Aegean are just some of the airlines which plan to expand their operations to Croatia in 2016. In a statement to EX-YU Aviation News, Scandinavian Airlines said, "The Croatian leisure market is very important for SAS and we have seen a growing number of passengers. This summer we had 51 weekly frequencies from Scandinavia to Croatia and over fourteen different routes. We plan to continue serving Split, Dubrovnik and Pula". Thomson Airways' fastest growing market this year was Croatia. The airline almost doubled its number of flights to the country and has announced a new service from Birmingham to Split, as well as from East Midlands to Pula. Furthermore, the airline will continue operating its Boeing 787 Dreamliner into Dubrovnik next year. On the other hand, easyJet will move forward the start of many of its seasonal flights to the two coastal cities. In a statement it reiterated the market's importance. "Croatia is an important market for easyJet. We carried nearly half a million passengers to and from Croatia last year”. In addition, Air Berlin and its subsidiary Niki have announced new flights from Berlin, Dusseldorf and Vienna to both Split and Dubrovnik from May 14. Air Berlin says the new additions to its network are in response to increased demand for holidays on the Croatian Adriatic coast.
Both airports will address rising capacity and traffic issues through the construction of new terminals. The new terminal at Split Airport will stretch over 34.500 square metres and increase the airport’s capacity to 3.5 million passengers per year. Furthermore, the car park and bus area will be expanded by 35.500 square metres. Work on the 59.3 million euro expansion project is expected to begin in autumn or early winter. It is estimated to take just over two years to complete the investment. Meanwhile, Dubrovnik Airport has already begun expanding its facilities. In May it resumed a major expansion project valued at 220 million euros, which will include the construction of a new passenger terminal, storage facilities, access roads, car park and the lengthening of the runway and taxiways. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2019. The new terminal will stretch over 36.500 square metres and have the capacity to handle 3.5 million passengers per year.