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Airport to close for runway renovation

Ljubljana Airport will close to all traffic for 15 days in April next year. During the closure most flights will be able to fly to and from Maribor.

Next year, Aerodrom Ljubljana will be dealing with the third, main stage of runway renovation.  The first and second stages renovation of the east and west part of the runway were successfully completed this summer when the airport operated with a shortened, 2,100 metre-long section. It was announced in the summer that the renovation of the runways central section would probably require closing the airport.
Based on economic estimates and the assessed level of risk for traffic activity and after harmonisation with airport users and the Ministry of Transport, it was decided that the works would be carried out between 7 and 21 April 2010, when Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport will be closed to all traffic. 

The construction work involved in the renovation of the runway includes the renovation of asphalt surfaces across the entire breadth of the runway over a length of approximately 3,000 metres (300 metres were resurfaced in 2007), renovation of asphalt surfaces on part of the taxiways, replacement of the lighting system with cable connections and installation of additional cable trenches. The renovation will above all increase the safety of the runway, which is 3,300 metres long and 60 metres wide. The runway was asphalted in 1978 and its last complete overhaul was in 1992, when a thin coating was applied.

At the press conference, Aerodrom Ljubljana CEO Zmago Skobir made the following statement: "The runway is our key fixed asset and must be perfectly maintained at all times. In deciding how to renovate the runways central section, our choice was between full and night-time-only closure. We concluded that full closure would mean lower risk, in terms of both safety and finance."

Mirko Komac, Director of the Civil Aviation Directorate of the Ministry of Transport, went on to say:  "Safety comes first in civil aviation, and flawless maintenance of fixed assets and equipment is a prerequisite for it. Since safety at the airport may at no time be compromised by construction works, our ministry seconds the manner of renovation that was chosen."

During renovation, most of the traffic will use the airport at Maribor instead of Ljubljana, which is also where Adria Airways will move its operations, which account for approximately 75 percent of all passenger traffic at Brnik. According to early reports, operations will be also moved to Maribor by Turkish Airlines, whereas JAT is to be flying from Portorož. Other regular carriers flying from Ljubljana Airport will make their decisions known in the days to come.

"Our passengers will have to travel from Maribor instead of Ljubljana, which means they will have to allow for the extra transfer time when planning their travel.  Free coach transfer will be arranged for passengers who might want it from Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport to Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport. The timetable of transfers will be posted on the Adria Airways website in January. The number of flights will be somewhat reduced, the flight timetable (arrival and departure times) will be unchanged during renovation, and passengers will be informed of changes as they buy tickets and through the media," said Adrijana Šelj from Adria Airways at the press conference.

Aerodrom Maribor director Matjaž Sonc made assurances that Maribor Airport would be ready to take over the extra traffic. "Intensive harmonisation with Aerodrom Ljubljana and air carriers is underway. By April, we will set up some additional facilities, and an agreement will be made with Aerodrom Ljubljana to supplement existing resources and staff," he said.

Aerodrom Ljubljana and the airlines will post timely notices of all changes for passengers on their websites and through the media. Difficulties or a negative impact on air traffic regularity are not expected. Nevertheless, they wish to apologise in advance to passengers for any inconveniences and ask for their understanding.