Zagreb Airport (IATA: ZAG, ICAO: LDZA), also known as Pleso Airport after the nearby suburb of Pleso, is the main international airport of Croatia and also a Croatian Air Force and Defense major fighter jet base. Located 10 km from the central railway station in Zagreb, it served 2,062,242 passengers in 2009 and is the primary hub for Croatian flag carrier Croatia Airlines. Expansion of the airport is due to start in 2010.
The first airfield in Zagreb was built in 1909 near the western city neighbourhood of Črnomerec. It was used by Slavoljub Eduard Penkala for the airplanes he designed.
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh made a landing in Borongaj Airfield (east of Zagreb) after his successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. The airfield began serving passenger traffic on 15 February 1928. On 1 April 1947, commercial services were moved to a former airbase near the village of Lučko, southwest of the city. At its peak in 1959, Lučko served 167,000 passengers.
On 20 April 1962, flight services were once again moved, this time to the current location near the suburb of Pleso in the southeast. It first opened with a 2,500 m long runway and 1,000 m² terminal.
A new 5,000 m² terminal was built in 1966, as well as the apron expansion. In 1974, the runway was extended to its current 3,250 m, and the terminal expanded to its current 12,000 m².
The airport's peak level of traffic was in 2008, with 2.2 million passengers. In 2004, the airport installed a CAT-IIIb instrument landing system (ILS). The VIP terminal was completed in 2008 and is located just south-west of the old terminal, which is also going to be refurbished.
Expansion and modernisation
The passenger terminal underwent major design upgrade, new VIP terminal was added to the west of the current terminal in 2008, and new unified facade (at the front of the terminal) was also added in 2009. The passenger terminal has a maximum capacity of around 2.5 million passengers per year with current traffic being around the 2.2 million mark. The main terminal building itself is rather small measuring only 200x58meters or around 20 000 m². Apron or airport ramp measures 950x187meters and can accommodate around 15 medium and 2 wide body aircraft.
A new terminal is planned for the future. The initial plan, made by NACO in 1997, was for 47,000 m² of space, capacity for 11 jetways, and the capability of handling 3 million passengers annually, but the airport authority decided to scrap this plan in favor of a larger terminal.
A new master plan has been developed by Scott Associates in 2006 and the new terminal is now expected to have 12 jetways and a capacity of 3.3 million passengers annually. It will be approximately 65,600 m² in area, nearly five times the size of the current terminal. This plan was also scrapped and a competition was held in hope of an even larger airport.
A competition for the final architectural and urban planning solution took place in August 2009, and the winner (IGH d.d.) was declared at the beginning of October. This proposal, designed by Neidhardt architects of Zagreb, includes a retail component with stores, banks, cafes and restaurants. A new luxury hotel with direct underground links to the terminal is planned, directly in front of the new terminal. The new terminal will consist of glass walls and roof in a wavy facade. It will be built in three stages, the first stage being able to cater for over five million passengers. This will increase as the second and third stage opens.
Construction is expected to cost €280 million, but due to financial crisis the realisation of the project is uncertain at the present time. Following completion, the old terminal will be used for low-cost operators. Air Force operations will move to the south end of the airport due to the construction. The start of construction is expected to take place August 2012 due to cost restraints. Meanwhile the old terminal will have a major face lift and minor expansion expected to cost 6 million euros.
Accompanying the terminal will be a second parallel runway. The completion date is unknown at this stage. There will also be a new rail line alongside the Eastern bypass of Velika Gorica (currently under construction), which extends from Zagreb across the Homeland Bridge completed in 2007. These elements will create an entirely new east entrance into the city adding to the one via D408 state road. The airport is being built so more expansions can be conducted easily if needed. A second runway is also in option.
Airlines and destinations
The following scheduled passenger airlines use Zagreb Pleso Airport (as of May 2010):
Zagreb Airport - Terminal 1
Zagreb Airport - Visualisation of the new proposed terminal
Zagreb Airport - Interior view of Zagreb Airport
Zagreb Airport - Departure area of Zagreb Airport
Zagreb Airport - The town of Velika Gorica with Zagreb Airport in the distance
The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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