Aerodrom Ljubljana: 50 years in the heart of happening
The first aircraft landed at the airport in Brnik 50 years ago, on 24 December 1963. Regular air traffic started a few days later, on 9 January 1964. To mark this anniversary, Aerodrom Ljubljana, the company that operates Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, organised a surprise for passengers – a performance by the vocal group Perpetuum Jazzile in the passenger terminal. Over the last 50 years more than 35,300,000 passengers have passed through the airport, more than 935,000 aircraft movements have been recorded and approximately 422,000 tonnes of cargo have been handled.
To introduce its 50th year of operation, Aerodrom Ljubljana surprised the passengers of two morning flights at Ljubljana's airport with an energetic performance by the remarkable vocalists of Perpetuum Jazzile and an attractive display of dancing. This event was recorded on video and can be seen here or below. Throughout that day passengers and visitors to the airport received sweet little surprises concealing interesting facts about the airport. Using the advertising surfaces in the airport, its website and other media, the company also unveiled its jubilee graphic design featuring the tagline "50 years in the heart of happening". This design will be used throughout the whole year, which will include many more activities tied to the jubilee, including open house days in spring 2014.
Although Aerodrom Ljubljana d.d., the operator of Slovenia's principal airport, has experienced various ups and downs over the course of its 50-year history, it has never stopped investing in the development of airport infrastructure, improving the quality of its services and increasing the number of passengers passing through the airport. Despite difficult events, notably the independence war, when traffic at the airport practically came to a standstill, it is able to boast constant growth in passenger numbers and consistent excellence in its operations. Social and environmental responsibility are another important aspect of the company's operations. The company has prepared guidelines for the further development of the airport area and the corresponding spatial planning conditions. Over the next few years, with the realisation of these plans, it will be working to further strengthen its role as an important provider of connections and services for passenger and cargo transport in the region.
Milestones in the history of the airport
The first DC-6B of the Slovenian airline Adria Aviopromet (today Adria Airways) landed at the newly opened airport on 24 December 1963. Scheduled flights began on 9 January of the following year. The second phase of the airport was completed in 1964. The runway was extended to 3,000 metres and the apron was enlarged. In 1968 the company set out new directions of development for the airport: the establishing of scheduled domestic and international services, the development of air cargo and the design of a collection centre for the latter. The most visible results of these strategic decisions were the new passenger terminal (1973), the cargo terminal (1976), reconstruction of the runway (1978), participation in scheduled domestic and international services and the introduction of an intercontinental service to New York (1978). The period following 1980 was marked by the unfavourable economic situation at home and around the world and relatively reduced investment in development.
When Slovenia became independent, Ljubljana's airport became the country's principal airport. At the same time, however, it was faced with a significant fall in traffic as a result of the political upheavals and wars in the former Yugoslavia. At 1.30 p.m. on 26 June 1991 the airspace over Slovenia was closed, and so was the airport. The stoppage continued, with a few exceptions of varying duration, until the middle of February 1992. Aerodrom Ljubljana used this period to renovate the airport building, carry out repairs to the apron and introduce information technology for airport staff and passengers. The Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways become Aerodrom Ljubljana's biggest partner. As a result of the reduced traffic at the airport, the opportunity was taken to resurface the runway. A major enlargement of the passenger terminal was carried out in 1992 and 1993. A modern precision landing radar was also installed. In 1996 the company completed the ownership transformation process and the following year Aerodrom Ljubljana was entered in the Register of Companies as a public limited company. In 1999 the airport obtained CAT III B status for reduced visibility operations, becoming one of approximately 100 airports around the world with an instrument landing system of this category.
The year 2001 was a very bad year for world aviation and the effects were also felt by Aerodrom Ljubljana. Following the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the aviation industry found itself in crisis, with passenger numbers falling dramatically overnight. In 2003, as the airport celebrated its 40th anniversary, work began on a general aviation hangar and the construction of a general aviation apron. In 2004 more than one million passengers passed through the airport in a single year for the first time in its history. The airport slowly began to take on the appearance of other modern airports around the world. In 2005 a modern multi-storey car park with office annexe was built, while in 2006 the main apron was enlarged. In 2007 traffic began passing through the new passenger terminal and, following a decision by the government, the airport was renamed Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport. This year also saw the extension of the taxiway – part of an extensive cycle of investment. The airport has begun to develop into a hub for cargo traffic. In 2009 the effects of the economic crisis meant that Ljubljana's airport was faced with a significant fall in traffic. Despite the reduced revenue Aerodrom Ljubljana did not deviate from its plan of investing in essential infrastructure: the main apron was renovated and widened and the runway, the taxiway connectors and the taxiway parallel to the runway underwent a thorough renovation. The downwards trend in traffic was reversed in 2013. In the first nine months of the year passenger numbers were up by 8.1% on the comparable period in the previous year, while the quantity of cargo handled was up by 6.7%. The company expects to handle 7% more passengers in 2014 than the estimated figure for 2013.
Zg. Brnik, 9 January 2014