Tourist Superpower? All Airports Closed in Croatia After Midnight

By 18 June 2017

Rather strange airport operating hours for a supposedly tourist oriented country.

“Given the fact that no airport was open in Croatia at the time, the airplane was diverted to Rome,” says the official statement by Croatia Airlines, issued after a flight between Zagreb and Dubrovnik was inexplicably diverted to Rome late on Friday evening. The plane was unable to land in Dubrovnik due to high winds, but the captain’s request to return to Zagreb was rejected because Zagreb Airport supposedly didn't have enough people to receive the aircraft, reports on June 18, 2017.

This would seem to be a major scandal during the main tourist season because Zagreb International Airport should be operational 24 hours a day. Here are the details.

The Croatia Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft on a flight from Zagreb to Dubrovnik eventually landed in Rome on Friday evening. The plane could not have landed in Dubrovnik due to high winds. The crew planned to return to Zagreb, but Croatia’s largest airport allegedly refused to receive the plane on the grounds that “they did not have enough people to receive it.”

According to media reports, after passengers were left in Rome, Croatia Airlines wanted to return the empty plane to Zagreb, but that was also refused. It turned out that Zagreb Airport did not have the necessary firefighting crews present for the Airbus 320 aircraft. During the night, only a skeleton firefighting crew remains at the airport, which means that they cannot accept large planes and the airport is practically closed. The question is how will airport services respond if there is a request for an emergency landing of an A320 or an even larger aircraft due to a failure or fire during the night.

Zagreb Airport did not want to confirm or deny this information, but in response to reporters’ questions said it would make a statement on Monday, as we have already reported.

The pilots then redirected the flight to the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, where they safely landed about an hour after midnight.

It should be noted that the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure has issued an order on the operating hours of airports in Croatia, and the order was published in the Official Gazette on March the 29th, 2017. The order decrees, for example, that Split Airport has to stay operational until 22:00, while Zagreb Airport must be able to receive aircraft 24 hours a day.

“All passengers have been provided with hotel accommodation, paid for by Croatia Airlines. In line with the European regulations, the airline will provide all passengers with the first available flight to their final destination, Dubrovnik, which is today at 13:45, on the Rome-Dubrovnik service,” said Croatia Airlines in a statement issued on Saturday morning.

According to passengers on the original flight, they were not even provided with information as to why they ended up in an entirely different country instead of Dubrovnik.