Airport Franjo Tuđman will see the opening of a new passenger terminal worth more than €300 million next year. Jacques Feron, CEO at Međunarodna zraĉna luka Zagreb, the airport’s concessionaire, talks about the project.

What was the main focus of Međunarodna zraĉna luka Zagreb (MZLZ) as concessionaire in Zagreb after handover?

Jacques Feron: Airport Franjo Tuđman is one of the busiest airports in south-eastern and central Europe, with 2.6 million passengers passing through in 2015. We at MZLZ, Airport Franjo Tuđman’s concessionaire, believe that connectivity is crucial in today’s world, and we have aimed to increase Zagreb’s and Croatia’s connectivity since we took over operations in December 2013. In 2014 and 2015, we focused more on foreign carriers, because our home-based carrier Croatia Airlines was passing through a restructuring process and was limited in growth. 2016 was an important year for us, as Croatia Airlines completed the process and started to grow again.

How do you think the new passenger terminal will improve things at Zagreb?

Bottlenecks in the current terminal building will be relieved once operations move to the new terminal, and the airport will continue to grow along with Croatia Airlines and other carriers. As well as increased capacity, the new terminal will promote an enhanced passenger experience with improvements such as passenger boarding bridges, a spacious check-in area, state-of-the-art terminal design, glamorous retail shops with high-end brands and more products, and comfortable lounges.

Can you give us a few details about the terminal’s infrastructure?

It was designed by Croatian architects and constructed by one of the world’s leading construction companies, Bouygues Batiment International, along with Croatia’s leading construction company, Viadukt. The building will have a capacity of five million passengers in its first phase, with 65,000m² of floor space over three levels. It will feature eight passenger boarding bridges – two for domestic flights and six for international – and 3km of baggage lines, including three carousels. A 3D frame roof of 35,000m² will be supported by 2,000t of steel structure and 5,000t of rebar.

Initially, 500,000m³ was excavated; ultimately, the external area will be covered by 250,000m² of asphalt and filled with 40,000m³ of concrete, featuring 35,000m of drainage. Testing of the new facility will begin in January, in preparation for an overnight switchover in March from the old terminal to the new.

Tell us a little about the change to the airport’s name.

The airport’s name has recently been updated from Zagreb International Airport to Airport Franjo Tuđman, to commemorate Croatia’s first president. The new passenger terminal is expected to become a landmark for Croatia, supporting the capital city so it can fully achieve its potential as a desirable European destination in terms of tourism and business development alike. Having a strong and consistent consortium behind the new passenger-terminal project ensures a synergy of international know-how and experience.

Who is involved in that consortium?

The Zagreb Airport International Company is 100% owner of MZLZ, which became the official concessionaire of Zagreb International Airport in December 2013, and consists of internationally known companies such as Aéroports de Paris Management, Bouygues Bâtiment International, TAV Airports Holding, Viadukt, Marguerite Fund and IFC (a member of the World Bank Group). The airport is managed by a combination of experienced locals, and international executives of ADPM and TAV Airports.

What are your expectations for the coming year?

Combined with a customer-oriented business approach, further network development and traffic growth are expected at the airport, in line with the past three years’ developments. The ultimate goal is to make Airport Franjo Tuđman a positive reference in terms of a well-managed, modern and developed airport infrastructure, a reliable partner to various stakeholders and, essentially, a preferred gateway for travellers.