Croatia's three busiest airports - Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik - have registered their best performing year to date, securing their positions as the second, third and fourth busiest airports in the former Yugoslavia respectively. Combined, the three welcomed an impressive 7.049.317 travellers through their doors in 2016, up 13% on the year before.
Zagreb Airport handled a record 2.766.087 passengers in 2016, an increase of 6.9% year-on-year. The number of aircraft movements stood at 40.796, up 2.4%. The airport says it is preparing for a "new phase in business operations" in the lead-up to the opening its new terminal in March. During 2017, focus will shift towards attracting new carriers. So far, Monarch Airlines has announced the launch of year-long flights to Zagreb from London Gatwick and Manchester in April, Capital Airlines will commence seasonal services from Beijing in June, and talks are underway for the introduction of flights to New York. Furthermore, Swiss International Air Lines will resume operations between Zurich and Zagreb on a seasonal basis. Croatia Airlines has also announced plans for the introduction of new routes, while new seasonal summer flights launched in 2016 are to be extended throughout the year. On the other hand, the airport also plans to increase its fees as it opens its new terminal.
Split Airport welcomed over two million passengers in a single year for the first time. It handled 2.289.987 travellers in 2016, up 17.1%. A handful of airlines have already announced new services to the city, such as KLM, Aer Lingus, Volotea and Norwegian Air Shuttle, to name a few. Split Airport is finally expected to begin construction of its much-delayed new terminal building this year. Work on the first phase of the project should be completed in the autumn of 2018, while the second phase is expected to be concluded in the summer of 2019. In late December 2016, Split Airport inked an agreement with Kamgrad, Viaduct, and KFK Tehnika to build the new facility. The expansion will increase Split’s annual capacity to 3.5 million passengers, while the terminal should stretch over 34.500 square metres. Furthermore, the car park and bus area will be expanded by 35.500 square metres. The project is valued at 59.3 million euros and work should begin this spring.
Dubrovnik Airport followed in the footsteps of its two busier counterparts and registered growth of 17.7% by handling 1.993.243 passengers. "2016 was by far the most successful in the airport's history and has exceeded all of our expectations", Dubrovnik Airport's General Manager, Frano Luetić, told EX-YU Aviation News. Figures were aided by a stronger winter season thanks to the airport's efforts to attract airlines during the off-season. "The Croatian National Tourist Board (including the regional and city tourist organisations) allow for interested subjects to apply for incentives to operate flights outside of the peak season. Similarly, through incentives which are listed on our webpage, the airport also offers, in a transparent manner, favourable terms to airlines during the winter season. Although there is some progress, we are not satisfied with the loads on existing winter flights, even though we are linked with Frankfurt and Istanbul, both of which offer connections to 275 cities across the world. Therefore, it is up to the tourist board to attract travellers and fill empty seats on existing services", Mr Luetić said.
Meanwhile, the construction of Dubrovnik Airport's multi million euro Terminal C building is nearing completion with the facility expected to open this spring. "The opening of the new C building of our passenger terminal (stretching over 26.000 square metres) is expected in April, however, we hope that it will be in partial use as early as February", Mr Luetić noted. The facility will feature check-in and commercial space stretching over 1.000 square metres, eight security lanes, a departure lounge with commercial and catering facilities, a premium lounge and restaurants.