An airport terminal to match the ambition and heavy investment from owners Fraport could soon become a reality at Ljubljana’s Brnik Aerodrome, following news that work to bring the dated facility into the 21st century is due to commence early in 2016, with completion tentatively slated for 2018.
Check in and security have for some years been areas of concern for both passengers and the airport’s management, with peak times often resembling a disorganised sea of humanity going nowhere in particular, in a hurry or otherwise. Whilst it must be remembered that the original construct was commensurate with the regional airport that Brnik once was, it of course now serves the capital city of a sovereign nation. Although modernisation and expansion programmes have been completed in many parts of the airport since my first visit in 1999, crucially, the check in area which naturally serves as the first impression to travellers hasn’t been upgraded, often affording passengers a cramped queuing experience.
Additional plans include a broader flight side experience that will present passengers with a more diverse range of retail shopping and an increased level of comfort in waiting areas. External developments that include a challenging project to relocate an adjacent highway will provide better access to the terminal, work that will complement the already completed scheme to renew the forty year old air-side apron with a more durable concrete finish.
Despite many setbacks brought about by opposition from minority shareholders to a new terminal becoming a reality, a phased build which crucially includes the provision of a second terminal is still planned by the airport’s management. Although an additional terminal will only be constructed in line with sustained demand and growth, it is nevertheless confusing how a new terminal could be vetoed on financial grounds but the prospect of a second, standalone facility rather than a replacement can supposedly be in the pipeline.
Passenger numbers continue to rise at Brnik and whilst they are some way off reaching the 1.6 million posted in 2008, the spike in foreign carriers opting to fly out of Ljubljana should see sustained growth during 2016 and highlight a reduction in Fraport’s reliance on flag carrier Adria Airways, whose capability is inevitably hamstrung by a finite Slovenian aviation market and their business model of operating flights away from its traditional Ljubljana base. Fraport will also be justly wary of placing too many eggs in Adria’s basket whilst the interminable uncertainty of the airline’s future ownership remains very much in a holding pattern.
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