The opening of Zagreb Airport's new state-of-the-art passenger terminal is set to take place in the second half of March following three years of construction. The final trial of different components of the structure, which will ensure a smooth start-up and optimal service levels for passengers and airlines is currently taking place. So far, over 900 volunteers have taken part in eighteen trial runs designed to test the systems and processes across the facility, as well as staff preparedness by simulating typical airport operating scenarios. Another test, taking place in the arrivals area, is being conducted today between 09.00 and 15.30 with over 200 volunteers, while the final advanced trial, which will involve 400 people, is scheduled for February. In the final days ahead of the opening a select number of arriving flights will use the new terminal in order to test access, traffic flow, way-finding signage, police, immigration and customs, as well as food and beverage and retail areas.
Staff at Zagreb Airport are currently undergoing training as part of the Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT) program, which includes operational readiness preparation, staff familiarisation with the new terminal, staff transfer and post opening training. The airport is planning a high-profile opening which will be followed by the arrival of new airlines and the launch of new routes. So far, Emirates and Monarch Airlines have been confirmed as new arrivals, with more set to be announced in the weeks to come. Several airlines have also announced plans to add frequencies to Zagreb including Air Transat, which will resume its seasonal service from Toronto earlier and run two instead of one weekly flight, as well as Iberia which will add two extra departures each week from Madrid for a total of five. Furthermore, Swiss will resume operations from Zurich, while Croatia Airlines is set to add new routes.
The CEO of Croatia Airlines, Krešimir Kučko, has expressed some concerns over the new facility and how its large size, compared to the current terminal building, could affect the carrier's operations. Speaking to "Ch Aviation" recently, Mr Kučko said, "The apron doesn’t have enough parking bays close to the terminal so shuttling passengers to and from the aircraft will take longer. Being fast is crucial to us as we just have thirty minutes to handle transfer flights during our morning busy spells". He added, "As the slots at Western European airports we have right now have been grandfathered to us, we are unable to get ones that are better suited to our flights. Now add to that, the operating hours limitations regional and coastal feeder airports impose and you’ll soon see that even five minutes during morning rush hour can be critical to our operations. On the other hand, the new terminal will also offer passengers many new amenities and improved comfort. On the whole, we will have to see how it all works out".
Valued at 243 million euros, Zagreb Airport's new terminal building will stretch over 65.000 square metres and three levels, feature three baggage carousels, eight air bridges - six for international flights and two for domestic services - nine security checkpoints, thirty check-in desks, 23 passport control booths and a car park with the capacity to handle 1.100 vehicles. One of the international gates will have the ability to handle larger "heavy" aircraft such as Emirates' Boeing 777, as well as the Boeing 747. Furthermore, the airport includes three remote stands next to the terminal, while stands at the current passenger building will also be used if the need arises. Each of the aircraft parking positions at the new facility includes a Visual Docking Guidance System which gives information to a pilot attempting to park their aircraft. The terminal itself will include a large 600 square metre duty free shop operated by Aelia, sixteen cafés, bars, restaurants and snack bars run by Turkey's BTA, as well as smoking cabins and automated baggage handling. Enough space has been left for additional check-in counters and baggage carousels to be added once the new terminal reaches its maximum capacity of five million passangers. Further extensions envisaged along the thirty-year concession period will potentially see capacity increased to eight million.