Finally! A Helicopter Service for Croatia Based on Brac for 2017

By , 08 Feb 2017, 13:10 PM Travel

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A fabulous addition to Croatia's luxury tourism offer for 2017, with the announcement that Brac Airport will be the home of a helicopter offering transfers to Hvar, Split, Dubrovnik, Montenegro and other destinations. TCN caught up with Airways Charter CEO Laura Protat on February 7, 2017, to learn more. 

Finally!

The potential of Croatia to be one of the elite destinations in Europe, but look a little closer, and some details are missing, one of the most glaring being the ease of luxury transportation around the country, and particularly to the islands. 

In 2013, shortly after Croatia's entry into the EU, a Swiss R-44 helicopter arrived at the airfield of Stari Grad on Hvar, with plans to offer luxury transfers to passengers willing to pay. Stari Grad to Dubrovnik Airport and waiting private plan in 50 minutes was one of the transfers we handled in the brief time that the Swiss operation was on Hvar. The business model was good, the pricing reasonable, but they had reckoned without one thing:

Our old friend Croatian bureaucracy. 

Promises from the Ministry of Transport for the appropriate licences to land outside of regular airports failed to materialise, and the final straw seemed to be when Split Airport refused to let the helicopter land on a Saturday - the key transfer day - as it claimed it was too busy to handle the arrival of a four-seater helicopter. 

And so the helicopter options remained scarce. There was a local company, perhaps still is, although I never heard of it flying after its lone helicopter was involved in a crash a few years ago. 

Seaplanes came in 2014, finally connecting some islands with the mainland. Jelsa to Split Airport and downtown Split was a dream. And although European Coastal Airlines has announced it will resume operations shortly after suspending them in October, an ongoing lawsuit against the Croatian Civil Aviation Authority is but one obstacle muddying those waters. 

Enter Airways Charter, part of a international company successfully running helicopter and private plane operations in Australia, UK, Spain and Montenegro. 

And - from May 1, 2017, if not sooner - from sunny Croatia as well, when the company will have an R-66 helicopter based on Brac.

Ah Brac Airport, the rising star of island tourism. Almost close a few years ago, this year Brac will see direct flights from Brussels, and now with an awaiting helicopter for onward travel. Connected to the world and with the rest of Dalmatia open for speedy transfer. 

I spoke to CEO Laura Protat by phone earlier today to get some more concrete information about the company's plans. Here is what I found out. 

One Robinson R-66, with payload of 600kg, will be stationed on Brac. It will be able to transport four passengers with luggage. Operations are planned to begin from May 1 until August 31, although they could start sooner, and will obviously continue later if the business is successful. 

The company already does transfers from Montenegro to Dubrovnik Airport, which is convenient for guests wanting to transfer to Porto Montenegro. The price of a one-way flight, which takes 15 minutes, is 900 euro. They are working on options to have a helipad option close to the city.

A flight from Tivat to the company base on Brac would take about an hour and cost 1400 euro. International transfers to places like the Stari Grad airfield on Hvar are also possible, although a brief stop on Brac would be necessary to clear customs, but flights such as Dubronik Airport to Stari Grad would be possible. 

The company is also planning to offer panorama flights, with a popular one bound to be Bol, Stari Grad, Hvar Town and the Pakleni Islands. A variation from Stari Grad is also planned. These scenic tours will be priced at 450 euro per flights, so a little over 100 euro per person. 

It all sounds rather exciting for the luxury end of Croatian tourism for 2017, and it is a story that we will follow closely at TCN. More news shortly.

 

From Croatia with Madness

Croatia Traffic Info

  • There was a traffic accident on the Zagreb bypass road (A3 Bregana-Lipovac), on the 12th km + 500; only one lane is free in direction Bregana. The A1 Zagreb-Split-Ploče is now open for cars only between Posedarje and Sveti Rok, as well as the state road Maslenica-Zaton Obrovački. Detour for other vehicle categories are the state roads through Benkovac-Karin-Obrovac-Gračac. Due to strong wind there is a traffic ban on double-decker buses, vehicles with campervans and motorcycles on the following sections: -on the A7 motorway between Draga and Šmrika, -on the Adriatic coastal road between Bakar and Senj There is an additional traffic ban on delivery vehicles and vehicles with covered cargo area on the Adriatic coastal road (DC8) between Senj and Sveta Marija Magdalena. Traffic is heavy on most of the roads leading towards the interior of the country; on the A1 ZG-St-Ploče and on the A3 Bregana-Lipovac in direction Zagreb, on the A2 Zagreb-Macelj in direction Slovenia and along the Adriatic coastal road. A1 MOTORWAY ZAGREB-SPLIT-PLOČE - at the toll station Lučko: / - at the toll station Demerje: / A3 MOTORWAY BREGANA-LIPOVAC - There is a 1 km long queue at the toll station Bregana in direction Slovenia Roads are occasionally wet and slippery in the eastern parts of the country. Rockfalls and landslides are possible. Adjust your speed to road conditions and to keep the safety distance. Driving restrictions: freight vehicles exceeding 7,5 t - Sunday, 20th of August; until 11PM Sections of the roads closed due to roadworks: -the DC29 from Novi Golubovec (DC29, DC35) -the DC502 Smilčić-Pridraga state road -ŽC5042 Višnjan-Tićan. Traffic is regulated by traffic signals/one road lane is free only: -on the DC1 state road in Knin, on the section Sučević-Otrić in Otrić -on the state road DC2 in Vukovar, (Kudeljarska and Priljevo street) -on the state road DC66 Pula- Raša bridge -on the state road DC206 Valentinovo-Petrovsko. With the sunny and dry weather, more and more cyclists and motorists are on the roads. Other vehicles (such as cars or trucks) should look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes and opening doors next to moving traffic. Check your mirrors and be aware of blind spots before turning. While at a stop sign or red light, make a complete stop in order to let bikers pass, and check for unseen riders. Respect the right of way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you. Cyclists are not immune to traffic violations: pay attention to red lights and practice arm signaling!
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  • Due to heavy traffic during the tourist season longer wait times are possible on most border crossings with Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro.
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  • The catamaran lines Mali Lošinj-Cres-Rijeka and Pula-Mali Lošinj-Zadar are currently not operating due to bad weather conditions, as well as the ferry line Prizna-Žigljen. The catamaran line Jelsa-Bol-Split will tomorrow (21st of August) be departing from the port Stari Grad at 6:00 a.m.
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