Sailing ahead with growth at Zadar

Bernie Baldwin

When people ask how your airport is growing, it has to be a satisfying thing to say that the airport has added 16 new routes this year. That’s the strong position in which Tomislav Zepina, manager of the commercial division at Zadar Airport, happily finds himself.

In 2019, names such as London Gatwick, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Cologne, Hamburg, Madrid, Poznan, Prague, Krakow, Stuttgart, Milan Bergamo, Belgrade, Nuremberg and Hannover have been added to the list of destinations  from the Croatian coastal city, some being added by more than one carrier. “To be honest, we did lose Paris Beauvais and Paris Orly when Ryanair and Transavia [respectively] cut those routes for 2019,” Zepina admits.

There are, however, more new routes confirmed for 2020 with Jet2 introducing twice-weekly services from both Manchester and London Stansted.

Zadar gets some business travellers, but Zepina says it is mostly leisure and ethnic/VFR. “There’s a number of Croatians in Germany and Ireland,” he notes.

Zadar’s leisure attractions are headed by aquatic sports as the city has more than 300 beautiful islands just off its coastline. “Sailing among the islands is extremely popular,” Zepina says. “After that, there are seven nature parks  within an hour’s drive, the culture and gastronomy – we have plenty of healthy vegetables and seafood – plus the city hosts a lot of festivals, which attract a lot of young people, especially from the UK and Ireland.”

Looking further ahead, the Port of Zadar is undergoing major development and Zepina expects the fly–cruise business to build from 2021. “The transfer from the airport to the port takes less than quarter of an hour,” he states.

Disruption due to weather on either scheduled flights or those bringing cruise passengers to the Croatian port is highly unlikely, as Zadar is the only airport in the country to have two runways. Angled as they are, wind changes  can easily be accommodated.

“We’ve never actually been closed due to the weather,” Zadar declares.

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