Five Observations from Dubrovnik Airport

Dubrovnik International Airport is a regional hub of the southern Adriatic. It is the biggest airport serving southern coast of Croatia, Montenegro, and parts of Herzegovina.With more than 16,000 flights per year – up to 3,000 flights per month in summer and roughly 300 flights a month in off-season months – the airport serves 1,6 million passengers a year. Subsequently, approximately 300,000 passengers pass through the airport on an average month during the season, while winter months experience reduced passenger-traffic with up to 20,000 travelers per month.

Taking the above trends into consideration, Dubrovnik airport applied for the EU funds with the aim to improve its efficiency and expand its operations. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) co-finances Dubrovnik’s new terminal building and jet bridges, new runway, conversion of the existing runaway into a taxiway, and a commercial zone with a large airport hotel. The ERDF support amounts to 134,6 million EUR, while the value of the whole upgrade project is estimated at 215 million EUR. Once completed, Dubrovnik airport hopes to increase its annual passenger traffic to 3,5 million travelers a year, and to attract more airlines on a whole-year basis, at the same time reducing processing and waiting times.

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I have been flying to and from Dubrovnik International Airport many times and my experience was usually positive. However, on my most recent trip I was very surprised with the service that awaited at the airport. My observations are highlighted below:

  • In summer months when the airport reaches its operational capacity it is of utmost importance for passengers and staff alike to continue providing a good service by expanding (seasonal) workforce in all areas of airport operations (e.g., passengers handling, processing, cleaning). Presently the waiting lines and the waiting times seem unmanageable.
  • Limited number of security gates cannot accommodate increased traffic efficiently. The airport should look into opening temporary security checkpoints. However, understanding that this might not be feasible due to security reasons, the passengers should at least be informed to arrive at the airport well in advance.
  • For easier navigation at the airport, more screens displaying upcoming departures should be placed throughout the airport departure hall. Currently when a  traveller gets to the airport building s/he gets ‘greeted’ with a small display screen where the flights-listed-by-time change in a lighting speed showing flights for the upcoming 24 hours. When I looked for the information concerning my flight I had to wait for a bit in order to catch my flight on a screen. Thus, I believe that limiting the number of flights on the main screen to flights departing within the following couple of hours would be necessary for better orientation and navigation of passengers throughout the main hall.
  • The airport has a limited Internet connection, which is not available in all areas of the airport building. In the selected areas where Internet is available it is limited to 15 free minutes. In the age when Internet has become a norm, every modern airport should offer free, fast-speed Internet.
  • In times of increased traffic, the airport should provide more trashcans. What I noted everywhere on the floors alongside corridors were hundreds and hundreds of empty plastic bottles. Besides, cleaning staff should make sure to clean the public spaces as often as needed.

In conclusion, I was very happy that I was not alone at the airport, and I can’t help but curiously wonder what can a person that comes alone do not to miss his/her flight.

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  • figures taken from Dubrovnik Airport website