Thursday, 7 July 2022

Split Airport Director Pero Bilas Says Facility is Ready for Crowds

July the 7th, 2022 - Split Airport director Pero Bilas has stated that the facility is ready to deal with expected crowds over the summer months, as travel gets back to normal and people put the coronavirus pandemic and all of its woes firmly behind them.

As Morski writes, Split Airport director Pero Bilas claims that the situation with crowding at Zagreb Airport is unlikely to occur there. "Split Airport functions in a different way. We're an extremely seasonal airport and the fluctuations in traffic are very large indeed. We expect crowds in the summer and we know how to deal with them,'' he said.

Not a single employee was fired during the coronavirus pandemic

Split Airport director Pero Bilas said that not a single of the airport's employees was fired during the coronavirus pandemic, they were instead reorganised inside the airport, and he praised the Croatian Government's measure to preserve jobs, which contributed to everyone keeping their staff. He added that they also hired seasonal workers.

What is happening in Europe and what we're seeing as a problem is flight cancellations and delays. When this happens, passengers should have the means to cope with these situations made available to them. We're trying to do our best and we're also trying to make up for all the delays,'' he pointed out.

It is predicted that the traffic by 2024 and 2025 should be at the level of pre-pandemic 2019. Split Airport director Pero Bilas believes that they should easily reach these numbers, because the results that show that they have had an excellent May and June and that they will end this year at 80 percent of the traffic realised when compared to the record year of 2019.

He added that energy prices don't significantly affect the operation of the airport, either. What is significant is that companies that have to load their kerosene at various stations across Europe are sensitive to all changes occuring on the market.

The traffic boom in Split happened with the appearance of low-budget companies, and Bilas says that low-budget companies are very welcome.

They have an equal status, they all operate within the airport under the same conditions. They're very important to us, they make up 40 to 45 percent of our turnover, and the boom in traffic in Split happened with the appearance of these low-cost companies,'' Split Airport director Pero Bilas emphasised for N1.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

800,000 Passengers at Split Airport this Year? UK Market Will Decide

June 15, 2021 - How many passengers at Split Airport will be recorded this year? That hugely depends on the UK market. 

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) green list means unhindered movement without the risk of COVID-19 infection, and that is exactly what Croatia wants to be this summer, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

After Croatian counties were made green by Switzerland and almost entirely by Germany (except Varaždin and Međimurje), it is expected that a good epidemiological picture will remain in force, which is a basic prerequisite for more intensive tourist trips to the Adriatic.

They are also hoping for that at Split Airport, which received about 10,000 passengers last weekend, mostly in 55 large commercial aircraft, 2,000 more than the previous one.

"That number of flights is not small. If we know that companies have to take care of occupancy (this factor is significant because they will not fly if the plane is empty), then this is a good indicator, because last weekend we had a larger number of passengers on a similar number of flights, which is a sign that occupancy is better. And that again gives hope that all these flights will stay, and the companies will increase their number," said Pero Bilas, assistant director of Split Airport, where, of course, projections have already been made for this summer.

"If the favorable epidemiological situation is maintained from June to September, i.e., in the four peak months, we can expect approximately 800 thousand passengers. This can be divided so that there are ninety to one hundred thousand of them in June and the same number during September, and about three hundred thousand in July and August. However, the projection contains several elements, and one of them is that companies have the right to cancel the announced capacities up to 50 percent. But the first and basic condition, without which one cannot do, is the epidemiological picture. We need to stay green. Without that, there is nothing," adds the assistant director.  

May, in which the turnover of approximately 33 thousand passengers was realized, with 14 markets in which 15 airlines flew, was a good announcement of what awaits us in the coming period. Although the Airport is already recording an increase in traffic in the first half of June, confirmations of flight announcements for longer than three weeks are ungrateful given the changing variability of the epidemiological situation in Croatia and the world.

"In May, we had 14 markets, and now, in June, we are at 24. This is almost the whole of Europe, along with Russia, Ukraine, and Serbia. And that’s great considering the circumstances. We will now have 30 to 40 airlines, which have traditionally flown to us. Croatia is open, there is exceptional interest, desire, and will, but currently, a situation is in force when you offer something and wait for a reaction," explains Pero Bilas. He says that it is excellent that Germany and Switzerland have put us on the green list and that we currently share the same fate with similar countries, such as Spain, France, Italy, Greece. 

But the big question mark remains the UK market. Rising numbers of those infected and hospitalized because of COVID 19 are a subject of 'serious concern,' British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last weekend, acknowledging that he was less optimistic about opening the country than he was in May. Recall, on May 17, Brits could start hanging out indoors, in restaurants, pubs.

"It is clear that the Indian variant is more contagious, and it is also true that the numbers are growing and that the level of hospitalizations is rising," said the Prime Minister for Sky News.

"And now we have the following situation with Brits - we have been quite open since the beginning of April, but the catch is in their return to their own country. They need a negative PCR test at boarding, not older than 48 hours, then isolation, and again a PCR test after two and eight days. When you add up the time, cost, and energy invested in a return, it’s complicated for people. In addition, the number of infected people, regardless of vaccination, is growing slightly. Obviously, this Indian strain is spreading. And I don't have to tell you what the British market is to us. London has been our number one destination for decades, and it will definitely be felt in Split," says the assistant director of Split Airport.

From July 5, three flights from Amsterdam to Split

Optimism, for example, is fueled by the news that the Dutch national airline Royal Dutch Airlines is introducing a third daily flight between Amsterdam and Split on 5 July. The KLM plane will arrive at the Split Airport in the evening (21.40), and after spending the night in Split, it will fly back to Amsterdam at 6.45.

On the other hand, the Irish airline Aer Lingus has suspended sales on almost all routes from Dublin and Cork to Croatia for this summer season. The Dublin - Split - Dublin line, previously announced three times a week, has also been withdrawn from sale, and the Cork - Dubrovnik - Cork line is no longer on sale. The only line on which Aer Lingus still allows you to buy a ticket between Dublin and Dubrovnik. However, Croatian airports are already connected to Dublin with other airlines (Croatia Airlines, Ryanair). Many Croatian emigrants in Ireland decide to travel by transfer, especially via Amsterdam with the Dutch KLM, due to lower air ticket prices.

Dubrovnik has 32 lines 
Dubrovnik Airport has 32 domestic and international routes from 16 to 30 June this year. In the mentioned period, Dubrovnik will be connected with Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, Vienna, Brussels, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Helsinki, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, and Zurich. At the beginning of July, it will establish regular lines to New York.

EasyJet has four lines to Split
British EasyJet has announced a significantly higher number of routes to Croatian airports since the end of June. The company currently has four routes only to Split Airport (from Basel, London, Berlin, and Geneva) and will continue to operate on them in the coming weeks. In addition, from the end of June, there will be five more lines in operation: Amsterdam - Split, Bristol - Split - Bristol, Lyon - Split - Lyon, Paris - Split, and Orly - Split - Orly. By the end of this month, EasyJet will, according to current plans, resume traffic to the other three Croatian airports - Dubrovnik, Zadar, and Pula.

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Split Airport New Terminal: 2019 Progress Report Continued

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. 

To read more about Split, follow TCN’s dedicated page