Official opening of the new passenger terminal

The new passenger terminal was opened at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport. The Slovenian Prime Minister, Janez Janša, spoke as guest of honour at the opening.

The construction contract was signed in June last year between Aerodrom Ljubljana, the airport operator, and SCT, the Slovenian construction company. The first phase of the new terminal includes adapting and extending the existing terminal, and the construction of a new upper floor in which the departure lounges and border area will be located. The upper floor will later link the existing terminal to the new T2 terminal. Work starts on T2 in 2008. The size of the departure lounge area will be increased from 800m2 to 5000m2. A new viewing platform has been built and the terminal has also been equipped with four passenger-boarding bridges providing direct access from terminal to aeroplane.

The new terminal will usher in significant changes in the technology available to airport staff. Aircraft will now be parked with their nose towards the terminal, and special vehicles will push the aircraft backwards when they are ready to take off.
The four passenger-boarding bridges will come into operation on 22 July, while the ground floor and airport terrace will already be open from 10 July.
The architectural planning and project work on the building was carried out by the Eko Art bureau, led by the architect Vladimir Koželj. Project execution was exceptionally complex, given the need for the airport to continue functioning smoothly throughout the construction period, still meeting the same stringent passenger and baggage security conditions. The cost of the building was 14 million euros, with another 3 million euros spent on the passenger-boarding bridges and equipment. The EU will finance over € 3 million of the total 17 million euros, from funds allocated to the Schengen border.

The new terminal complies with the Schengen criteria that Slovenias external borders must now meet. The airports infrastructure is now ready to ensure the separation of passenger traffic into domestic (Schengen member states) and foreign (non-members of Schengen), with the new regime set to start in Slovenia in March 2008.

Zmago Skobir, the new President of Aerodrom Ljubljanas Management Board said to mark the opening:
Todays opening is the first step towards our goal of becoming the regions leading airport by 2015. We will reach this goal through continued growth of passenger and cargo traffic, the construction of the new passenger terminal and the related airport infrastructure, and the creation of the project with the working title Airport City, which will feature hotels, and business, warehousing and recreational premises. Airport City should provide at least 3000 jobs by 2015.

The transport minister Janez Božič said that the reconstruction of the old terminal and construction of the new one at Ljubljana-Jože Pučnik Airport also represented a significant challenge for the Ministry of Transport. The Schengen rules for policing the EU's external border require very high-quality technology for checking passenger arrival and departure, receipt and release of baggage, and  for handling aircraft on the airport apron. The positive and well-coordinated cooperation between the relevant ministries and Aerodrom Ljubljana has been vital to the success of this project, said the minister, adding that the experience gained would soon prove useful at Slovenias second airport in Maribor, where work is continuing to modernise and prepare projects to bring the airport into line with the Schengen standards for the EU's external borders. Mr Božič went on to mention the development projects that the transport ministry is planning alongside Ljubljana-Jože Pučnik Ljubljana (rail link to the airport, re-construction of the Kranj-Spodnji Brnik main road), and pointed out the intense construction work on air navigation service facilities. The minister said: In the first six months of this year, air traffic has increased by almost 16% on average," and attributed the need for a new regional air traffic control centre for Ljubljana and a new air traffic control tower to the new traffic records set over the period: air traffic control handled 912 flights on a single day (the previous record was 841), 5,607 flights in one week (previously 5,322) and 23,164 fights in one month (previously 23,031). About 50 million euros will be spent on the modernisation of the air navigation services provided by the public enterprise Kontrola Zračnega Prometa Slovenije, for the 20072013 EU budget period.

Dragutin Mate, the Minister of the Interior added that: the modernisation of airport infrastructure was urgently required in order to separate Schengen and non-Schengen flights, which was one of the main comments made by Schengen assessors during their first inspection of the airport last June. A further evaluation was carried out at the beginning of July this year, and the initial response from the visiting experts indicates that the airport and Slovenias air border is now in line with the Schengen criteria.

Zgornji Brnik, 9 July 2007