Golden team at the Airport
September was one of the liveliest months of the year, as two new records were set. We had our largest-ever number of passengers for the month of September, and recorded the highest daily number of passengers in the airport’s history. But notwithstanding these records, of which all of us at the airport are very proud, we will remember the ninth month of 2017 for the gold medals won by our national basketball team in convincing style at EuroBasket in Istanbul.
Our part of the story began back on 28 August, when the entire national team flew from Ljubljana to Helsinki. The team members were relaxed and happy upon their departure, and their eyes were shining. It was as if they already knew what they could accomplish.
We can assure you that the entire airport breathed as one with the national team throughout the tournament. Our employees’ excitement grew with every game, and the atmosphere at the airport was livelier every day – not least on account of the fans, who were deciding to go to Turkey to support the team in increasing numbers. Some airport employees went to the championships and cheered for our squad throughout the tournament – and they played a very significant role. Edo Golob and Gregor Zakotnik are undoubtedly among the loudest supporters of our basketball team, as they brought a large drum to the games and gave extra encouragement and energy to both the players and the fans.
The atmosphere at the airport grew exponentially after the quarter-final victory over Latvia, since air carriers had to add additional flights in order to bring the throngs of fans to Istanbul. After the victory over Spain the airport became an air base for fans, full of boisterous supporters and tired but proud and happy airport employees. These employees made it possible for 2,000 fans to go support their team on Sunday alone. Eleven flights to Turkey were added to the regular Sunday schedule, with the largest of them, a Boeing 777-300, carrying 332 noisy fans!
The proud cheering for #mojtim (my team) paid off in spades, but immediately after the victory we started making plans for the following day, when we would have to bring both the fans and the champions back home. Despite the fact that the official reception was held on Congress Square in Ljubljana, around two thousand people came to the airport to greet Gogi, Luka, Klemen and the rest of the champions. The atmosphere was indescribable, and the joy and pride could be felt everywhere. The champions were greeted by young and old, there were autographs and selfies, as well as photo ops and interviews. But we will always remember the broad smiles on the faces of both the players and the fans, who had breathed as one through every moment – breathed as one nation, Slovenia!