Jacques Feron: Croatia continually attracts more visitors, and Zagreb is becoming an increasingly interesting tourist destination. Tourists from all over the world prefer to spend a few days in Zagreb before heading off to the coast, and we are glad to facilitate their demand.
This year will certainly be a success as far as passenger numbers are concerned. Next year is also promising; we expect to reach 3.6 million passengers in 2019 and I believe this upward trend will continue in the coming years.
Emirates is one of the airline companies that arrived in Zagreb thanks to the new terminal building. The arrival of Emirates is important for Croatia because it is a fantastic hub connecting Europe with Asia and Australia.
Additionally, the introduction of flights from Dubai to Zagreb caught the attention of business people in the Middle-East region. Aegean launched an Athens to Zagreb route this year and connected two EU capitals. Air Canada introduced direct flights between Toronto and Zagreb, being the second company to operate on the route after Air Transat. In addition, Korean Air will introduce flights between Seoul and Zagreb as of September, becoming our first year-round long-haul destination.
We also hope that we will conclude deals with Chinese carriers, as Chinese tourists' interest in visiting Croatia is on the rise. There are more Chinese investors in Croatia and we believe that we can find a mutual interest in establishing direct lines with some Chinese cities. The number of visitors from the US has continued to increase into double digits, and I can say that the introduction of direct flights between Zagreb and the US is not that far away. The upward trend continues, and I sincerely believe that we will see more companies operating to/from Zagreb. The only thing that could make this difficult is rising oil prices, which are not in favour of air carriers and discourage investments in new routes.
Zagreb Franjo Tudman Airport was recently awarded the title of 'Most Improved Airport' in its category according to ACI ASQ results. Apart from the ACI surveys, we collect traveller comments, and constantly analyse and address them in order to improve our service - 90% of the comments are positive. Many have written that they feel comfortable in the spacious area and are thrilled with the design of the building, and there have been no major complaints regarding the services provided. There is always room for improvement, and after the first year we know where and what to improve to meet the expectations of all our passengers, customers and stakeholders.