Vis Airfield to Be Reopened in May

Total Croatia News

The airfield was constructed by the British army during the World War II.

Poor connections between Dalmatian islands and the mainland are an eternal problem. However, recent events on the island of Vis suggest that at least somewhat better days are ahead of us. On one of Croatia’s most outlying islands, the local airfield will soon be put into operation, reports Dalmacija Danas on March 28, 2017.

The initiative for the revitalization of the Vis airfield was launched about ten years ago by Pino Vojković, Goran Ratkajec and Jurica Žitko, who immediately received support from local authorities. They soon founded the Cumulus Aero-Club, which has continued to “push” for the initiative.

Last year, the Agency for State Property Management decided that the Rijeka Airport would take over the role of operator of the Vis airfield, as part of the project for connecting small airports and airfields.

Jurica Žitko is a retired Croatian Army officer, paratrooper with more than 900 jumps and one of the initiators of the revitalization of the airfield on Vis. He briefly explained the history of the Vis airfield.

“The airfield on the island of Vis was constructed by the British in 1944, with the purpose of executing final military operations in World War II. A few years ago, I met an American pilot who came to pay tribute to his fallen colleagues on Vis. He was one of the survivors. When I told him that this airfield would be reopened, he was overjoyed. He announced at the time that he would come to the opening, if he were still alive and healthy.

The airport was in operation until 1959, when the management over the land was handed over to the Vis Vineyards, which planted vineyards on the site of the former airfield. In 1992, there was a project of connecting the coast and islands with small airports. As part of the project, a comprehensive plan was made, with a paved runway, control tower… The project was estimated at 12 million German marks. In 1994, Vis was visited by then Prime Minister Nikica Valentić. During a meeting, he said that the Vis airfield would be reopened, but the then leadership of the Town of Vis rejected the idea, so the government abandoned the project.

Another important year was 2009, when I learned that the land would be leased to Velimir Mratinić, a local farmer with a family farm. At that point, I launched the initiative to revitalize the airfield because I felt that it was the key moment for our idea to be implemented. Finally, exactly 12 days ago, we implemented our project. Now, this is a runway which can be used for landings”, said Žitko.

One of the important questions is who financed the airfield reconstruction works. “All this time I was supposed to be the person responsible for the revitalization of the airfield. However, due to political interests, they removed me and named instead a person to whom the local land was leased. The Rijeka Airport received approval from the Office for State Property Management to reconstruct access paths and implement other works. The director of the Rijeka Airport was supposed to be dismissed, but the assembly of the airport failed because representatives of the majority owner, meaning the state, did not come to the meeting. The director was not removed in order for the Vis project to continue. On the one hand, that is good, although there have been some activities made which are not in accordance with the law. The Rijeka Airport is state-owned, but here they allowed a private operator to invest in the project”, said Žitko.

“The runway is now ready for takeoffs and landings, and with the permit of the Civil Aviation Agency planes that want to land there can do it. When preparing a flight plan, you just have to submit the permit and that is it, there are no additional legal obstacles. Of course, this is done at your own risk, but the runway is safe. It is 799 meters long, so small planes can land without problems. It will be used by small planes up to 5.5 tons and with up to 20 passengers, similar to seaplanes connecting the coast and islands”, added Žitko

Žitko is dissatisfied with the behaviour of Vis mayor. “His role up to now is that he has not given a single kuna for the project, but now he wants to use the project in the election campaign”, he concluded.

Vis mayor Ivo Radica rejected any possibility that he would be the one making decision on who will manage the airfield, adding that all decisions are being made by the Rijeka Airport. “I hope that in two months, after many decades, Vis will again have the airfield. It will mean a lot for the island. Everything is funded by the Rijeka Airport and there are no costs for the Town of Vis. We plan to officially inaugurate the airfield on 30 May, the anniversary of the liberation of Vis from Yugoslav army”, said Radica.

Vis will then finally join the islands on which at least smaller aircraft can land.


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