Terminal debate continues in Zagreb

A completely new terminal stretching on 70.000 hector of land with a capacity of handling 5 million passengers annually with 12 air bridges should become a reality in Zagreb with a new terminal building (pictured above) which should be complete by late 2011 or early 2012 (according to current time frames). Following a debate if the best architectural project for the airport was chosen, a new debate has begun. Is the new terminal building necessary and if it is, is it too late? According the CEO of Zagreb’s Pleso Airport, Boško Mataković , the new terminal will introduce Zagreb as the gateway for South Eastern Europe and will be a leader in the region. However the project will be complete in 4 years, by which time airports from neighbouring countries will already have expanded. In 2010 the airport in Budapest, Hungary will have a new, fourth, terminal with 16 air bridges. By 2010 Ljubljana’s Jože Pučnik Airport will also have a brand new terminal. Meanwhile Belgrade Airport, the regional leader, is already operating with a 5 million capacity terminal for the past 3 years and plans are being made for the construction of a third terminal. In 2012 Bratislava’s new terminal will also be complete having a capacity of 5 million as well. Therefore the CEO of Zagreb Airport believes a new terminal is necessary and that Zagreb is significantly behind due to the delays which have occurred with the project.

On the other hand critics say that Zagreb has lost its chance of being a regional leader years ago and that the new terminal, which will cost 200 million Euros to construct, is both unprofitable and unnecessary. The current terminal is able to accommodate 1.5 million passengers annually (this capacity is now insufficient as Zagreb will serve approximately 2 million passengers this year). Critics of the new terminal say that money would be invested more wisely if it would go towards the expansion of the current terminal which could than accommodate 3.5 million passengers. Croatia is the regional leader in the number of international airports it has – a total of 11. However, currently only 3 are profitable – Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split.