Zagreb is putting the finishing touches on its new terminal building as it prepares for a busy twelve months during which focus will shift away from construction work to attracting new airlines and more passengers. Zagreb Airport's General Manager, Jacques Feron, recently said, "We are currently in talks with a number of airlines to introduce new routes, which is one of the ways we are preparing to transition into a new phase of our business operations, which will begin with the opening of the new terminal". Several airlines currently operating to the Croatian capital have already announced plans to boost their operations. They include Qatar Airways, which will deploy the larger Airbus A321 aircraft on seven out of its ten weekly flights this winter, and Air Transat, which will resume its seasonal flights from Toronto to Zagreb earlier in 2017 and run two instead of one weekly flight. Meanwhile, Beijing Capital Airlines has confirmed its arrival and plans to operate two weekly services from the Chinese capital starting next June.
Other carriers which are said to be considering launching flights to Zagreb include Finnair, as well as TAP Portugal, which suspended its Lisbon route in March. Meanwhile, Czech Airlines, which resumed services to Zagreb this summer following a four year hiatus is yet to decide whether the flights will continue into the winter season. "The formal decision about Czech Airlines‘ Prague - Zagreb operations hasn't been made yet. Information about the cancellation of our flights from/to Zagreb is apparently gossip", the carrier's spokesperson told EX-YU Aviation News. Although talks have been held with Wizz Air over the past few years, the low cost airline's terms and conditions for commencing services to the Croatian capital were unsuitable for Zagreb Airport. Despite this, Croatia's main airport has opted for a proactive approach in attracting new routes with a five year scheme to reduce airline start-up costs. Based on the individual merits of the proposed route growth, the airport may offer additional backing through marketing support.
In spite of its efforts to attract new customers, there will also be some reductions to operations this winter. Swiss International Air Lines will discontinue its flights from Zurich, Turkish Airlines will operate ten instead of fourteen weekly services, and Croatia Airlines will cancel its flights to Pristina. Speaking of the airport's development strategy, Mr Feron recently said, "An airport such as Zagreb cannot decide to become a hub on its own. It is airlines which make the airport a hub. At our concessionaire level, we shall accompany the airlines, and especially Croatia Airlines, in their strategies by being efficient and flexible". He added, "This project [new terminal] is very challenging, but it is already a success in that the construction is ahead of schedule. We are confident that with this new tool, we will definitely be able to improve the quality of services provide to all of our business partners". Zagreb Airport handled a record 1.839.994 during the January - August period, an increase of 6.6% compared to last year.