February 2, 2019 – The new Split airport, namely, the new terminal, is four times bigger than the previous one, and worth 450 million kuna. To everyone’s excitement, its doors will open just before the tourist season, most likely in June.
After we looked at the plans for Split Airport after the terminal is completed, T.portal met with Split Airport’s assistant director Pero Bilas to check out the interior of the new building, which is currently the most significant investment in Dalmatia after the Pelješac Bridge.
Last year, 3.12 million passengers traveled through Split Airport, which is only 200,000 fewer than Zagreb. While Split’s numbers continue to catch Zagreb each season, it is realistic to expect that they will soon be equal.
At Split Airport, however, the statistical race is not as important. What is important is that the project of the decade, the new terminal, is almost finished. Only the walls and the furniture remain.
The most impressive is, of course, the main hall which is a circular shape and boasts a radius of almost fifty meters. From the hall, passengers will have a view of one-on-one check-in counters, a collection of catering facilities, and the observation deck on the upper floor.
According to the idea of the architect Ivo Vulić, above the passengers is a dome with a wooden structure and, by its complexity, can be regarded as a sculpture.
Although spacious, the new Split terminal will be very compact and logical, and from the observation deck, passengers will be able to view takeoffs and landings.
Split Airport has significantly higher profits than its competitors, which last year amounted to roughly 150 million kuna, allowing it to fund its expansion after several years of excellent business. Along with the old terminal, which is about 11,000 square meters, the new one will be around 36,000 square meters. After this summer, the old terminal will also get an upgrade, and the buildings will be connected in a complex that will meet the needs of passengers for at least ten to fifteen years. For this investment, a loan from the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) has been partially taken, but only to ensure payment for contractors. It will be repaid very soon, however, and the airport will again become one of the few without debt.
As we’ve already mentioned, the passenger experience at the ’new’ airport will include a large parking lot with a capacity of 900 vehicles and a bus terminal with 49 spaces. Rental car agencies will make up the interior, along with various offices and catering facilities, and a 120-meter-long closed bridge will connect the buildings, with traffic in both directions.
At the other end of the bridge (or tunnel), passengers will enter the main area where all the roads cross – on the right for check-in, up for departures, left for arrivals. Thirty counters are already fully equipped; they only need to be dressed up.
“In general, all terminal equipment is set, tested and ready to use, and only a final dust cleaning should be performed. Our capacity will be around 3,000 passengers per hour so that we will serve at least five million a year without any problems,” said Pero Bilas.
The most important part of the entire facility – the baggage handling system, is the heart of each airport. Split Airport invested 55 million kuna in this part of the project, which they have bought from reputable Dutch companies, with two powerful X-rays produced by the United States.
The trip of a single suitcase is impressive. As Bilas points out, the whole process is automated, with a few extra points to check the baggage that X-rays mark as suspicious. From the check-in, the luggage will travel for a kilometer and is automatically deployed to the location of the aircraft, and in the opposite direction, the luggage automatically meets five large carousels for passengers.
“Passengers talk, but suitcases do not, so it was imperative for us to know where and where to find them,” explains Bilas.
On the top floor for departures, there are seven new lines for security, also automated with many cool details that should make the process move much faster and easier.
“And here, in the main area along the gates to the airplanes, there should no longer be those crowds, even in the heart of the summer,” Bilas adds.
Namely, there will be a total of 1,200 seating spaces with six exits, and with another five hundred in various catering facilities, which will be more than enough for the hordes of passengers traveling through Split every year. Duty-free stores will be exactly four times bigger than in the past and will be filled with at least 50% Croatian products.
“The current growth rates of 15 or 20 percent a year are not realistic, and we should expect them to return to the usual five to ten percent in the coming years. We will be ready for all options, and in our plans, we will look to the business’s viability first,” explains Bilas.
Over fifty airlines will fly to Split this summer on regular routes to over a hundred destinations.
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