Split Airport Expansion: Largest Investment in Dalmatia Today

Daniela Rogulj

How are things moving along at Split Airport?

The current largest investment in Dalmatia is the expansion of the Split Airport, and the value of HRK 450 million is among the most important investments at the state level. By the complexity and structure of the rank, there are the terminals of Zagreb Airport, as well as those in Dubrovnik – but even during the demanding construction work, Split Airport achieved record passenger traffic, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on December 16, 2017. 

When looking at most of the investments in Croatia, however, this airport is distinguished by the fact that its own resources finance it – partly directly based on earnings and partly by credit from HBOR. 

“We do not really have any actual credits,” says Lukša Novak, director of Split Airport. “Since business has been positive all years, including this one, we plan to do everything with our own forces, and therefore we do not require funds from the budget, and currently not from European funds,” Novak emphasized.

“An investment of this size and complexity is done every 30 yearsat the airport. The last time we extended the passenger terminal was in 2005, but the terminal itself was built at the time of the Mediterranean Games in Split. In any case, this is a complex investment that is realized on nearly 80,000 square meters, of which the passenger terminal itself occupies 35,000, and the bus terminal building has a surface of 2,000. The total surface of the passenger terminal after completion, scheduled for 2019, will be 48,000 square meters, which is comparable to the passenger terminals in Zagreb and Dubrovnik. This is quite enough for the next 20 years, with minimal current changes within the terminal. One of those changes will be Croatia’s accession to Schengen,” says Novak.

The need to expand the Split Airport did not come naturally overnight, and Novak confirms they were already aware of the need to develop the passenger terminal during the 2008-2010 expansion project. What nobody could have foreseen, however, was the explosion of passenger traffic, which occurred in the meantime.

“It took us ten years for the number of one million passengers per year to grow to two million. I will remind you, the prewar traffic was about one million passengers a year. However, it only took three years for two million to reach 2.8 million, and next year to three million passengers. The increase in passenger traffic is primarily related to tourism and the entry of the Republic of Croatia into the European Union. The problems in some countries that are competitors to us in tourism have been clear. In the last five years, we recorded double-digit growth. This year, we have a 23 percent increase in passenger traffic, and last year it was 17 percent – and in absolute terms, it was 520,000 passengers. No prognosis could have predicted this, and this growth occurred not only at Split Airport but throughout Croatia, with Split-Dalmatia County being ahead,” says Novak.

The infrastructure construction processes are well-known, complex, and applies to the passenger terminals, take-off runways, landing paths, and airstrips. Let’s not forget the planning, drafting, and obtaining all permits. As a public contractor, the Split Airport has an extended period of public procurement.

“All of this preparation requires some time, as well as the construction itself which we will do in three years. So when we talk about the whole process, we can say that it will be almost eight years. Not one stage can be done quickly or in a short time. I would even say that the construction phase, if you do not have problems with the contractor as it happens with some projects, it is the fastest and easiest,” added Novak.

The total value of the investment is HRK 450 million, while the main contract, in progress, amounts to HRK 346, 7 million. So far, about 30 percent of the total investment has been made, and everything went according to plan – with no breaks in construction or air traffic.

“With Viadukt, there is a clause that, in case of certain needs of the Airport, the construction stops, and we have endeavored to do so even during our strike days and during the tourist season. The problem with our contractors was the high temperature this summer, which reached up to 38 or 39 degrees Celsius. But we did not stop working for one day,” said Novak, who continued:

“Of course, all air traffic protection measures have been taken. I would also say that it was interesting for the passengers to see the construction so close. As soon as something is created, there is a positive energy not just in the Airport, but around all passengers, travelers, and airline companies.

“According to the data we have, already 90 percent of the flight schedule has been agreed for 2018, and the traffic will reach over three million passengers. The season, as well as all of the above mentioned, will be demanding, and because of this, we are preparing to allow the passengers and the companies the best service. In light of this season, I would like to say that everything has been achieved with the great engagement of all the services – not only ours but also everyone who operates at the Airport, the Ministry of the Interior, the Croatian Air Control and many others. The result of this is that we did not have any aircraft delays caused by situations within the Airport, and each passenger was greeted and directed in as little time as possible. We are grateful for the work we received from the largest companies,” concluded Novak. 

Translated from Slobodna Dalmacija


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