Although it draws its roots from the beginning of 20th century, today is a unique day for aviation in Zadar and Zadar region. It was April 19th, 1969, Saturday, just another beautiful sunny day. An ideal day for the event that followed. Today, exactly 50 years ago, a modern, newly built Zadar Airport was officially opened.
The opening was attended by several thousand citizens of Zadar and Zadar County. There were numerous prominent guests present from the political and public life of the city of Zadar and the whole Yugoslavia, with girls in folk costumes giving flowers to guests. Back then, just like today, there was an official speach held, followed by a cultural art program. And then, just after 10 AM, the President of Zadar Municipal Assembly Kažimir Zanki ceremoniously cut the ribbon and opened Zadar Airport. Soon after, the first planes began to land.
"After the Adriatic Highway, a ferry line to Italy and the railway lines, we got the greatest achievement, our airport. This is a world class airport, one of the most functional in the country, with two runways that allow take offs and landings regardless of the direction and strength of the wind. " it is written in the chronicles of that era.
Otherwise, the company "Zadar Airport" was established exactly two years earlier, on April 19th, 1967, with a Resolution adopted by the Municipal Assembly of Zadar. The first director was Drago Strenja.
During the first season, there were 15.508 passengers that flew in/out of Zadar Airport. Just a year later, the numbers grew as much as 206%. After 1972, the traffic stabilized with about 100.000 passengers per year, and those results were maintained until 1990. The record year was 1976, with a total number of 146.129 passengers. This result was reached again in 2008, with the arrival of low-fare companies, primarly Ryanair.
In 1990s, during the hard war days in Croatia, Zadar Airport was completely destroyed, plundered and devastated. With Maslenica's action in 1993, it was freed againg and restored by its employees with their hard work and effort.
With the arrival of low-fare companies, primarily Ryanair in 2007, Zadar Airport has begun its new era. There were 604.000 passengers in 2018, which is 4 times more compared to the best pre-war year, and 40 times more than the first season in 1969. Aiming to reach over 700.000 passengers and a record number of airlines and flights in 2019, it will surely be the busiest year in history of Zadar Airport.
As one of the most important infrastructure facilities, Zadar Airport is an important factor in connecting northern Dalmatia and Lika with other parts of Croatia and the world. It has contibuted to development of tourism and general economy of Zadar County for half a century, continuously achieving better results from year to year. With its location, traffic connections to A1 highway, Gaženica Seaport and the city center (10 km), Zadar Airport has become the departure and arrival point for numerous guests from all parts of Europe and the world, making Zadar and Zadar County an attractive tourist destination.
Being the part of the first 50 years is an extraordinary honor. The achievements of Zadar Airport are great, the achievements of the people of Zadar Airport during the first 50 years are truly valuable, especially considering that today's Zadar Airport was literally raised from the ashes after the War.
On April 19th 1969, Zadar Airport was opened. In the first season of 1969, 15.508 passengers traveled through the airport. We finished last year with 604.039 passengers. Expectations for this 50th year are over 750.000 passengers. That is the best way to continue the efforts of all employees, both former and present, and participate in the creation of better and richer Zadar and Croatia. We will continue to do so. Investments in the operational area of the airport and the planning of expanding the passenger terminal building will provide an opportunity for long-term traffic growth, which will stimulate further economic growth of Zadar. I believe in the future, I believe in success!
I congratulate to all present and former employees the 50th anniversary of Zadar Airport.
CEO of Zadar Zadar d.o.o.
Photo © Zadar Airport (ZAD/19.04.2019.)