Franjo Tuđman Airport, also known as Zagreb Airport (IATA: ZAG, ICAO: LDZA), is the largest and busiest international airport in Croatia, commonly referred to as Pleso. It handled 2,776,087 passengers in 2016.
Named after Franjo Tuđman (1922-1999), the first President of Croatia (1990-1999), the airport is located some 10 km (6.2 mi) south-east of Zagreb Central Station at Velika Gorica. It is the hub for the Croatian flag carrier Croatia Airlines as well as Trade Air. A base of the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence is located within the airport complex, in barracks called "Colonel Marko Živković". Also, there is an administrative centre of the Croatian Air Traffic Control.
The airport was awarded to the ZAIC consortium (Zagreb Airport International Company) in a 30-year concession under the terms of a contract signed by the Government of Croatia with the aforementioned. The contract includes financing, designing and the construction of a new passenger terminal. For the purpose of managing the airport ZAIC registered a company MZLZ d.d. (Međunarodna zračna luka Zagreb d.d.) that is now the operator of the Airport.
The history of Zagreb civil aviation begins in 1909 when the first airfield was built close to the western city neighbourhood of Črnomerec.
With the creation of the first Yugoslav flag carrier Autoput in 1927 the airport was relocated to the Borongaj airfield in 1928 which began serving the ever growing number of passengers on 15 February of that year. Although several European airliners connected the city it was mostly Aeroput which connected Zagreb to major destinations across Europe and thus significantly increased traffic at Zagreb in the period preceding the Second World War.
Following Word War II commercial services were moved to a former military airbase near the village of Lučko south-west of the city in 1947. JAT Yugoslav Airlines took the role of Aeroput and made Zagreb its second hub. At its peak in 1959 Lučko served 167,000 passengers.
The current location of the airport at Pleso in the south-east of Lučko opened in 1962 with a 2,500 m (8,200 ft) long runway and 1,000 m2 (11,000 sq ft) terminal. By 1966 Zagreb Airport got a new 5,000 m2 (54,000 sq ft) state-of-the-art passenger terminal. The runway capacity was lengthened to its current 3,252 m (10,669 ft) in 1974.
In the 1980s Zagreb Airport was the second largest in Yugoslavia by passenger and aircraft movements. Yugoslav flag-carrier JAT maintained a hub in Zagreb and connected the city to numerous destinations including New York, Chicago, Toronto which inevitably had a major impact on air traffic at Zagreb during that period.
Following an increase in passenger numbers and the necessity to upgrade its infrastructure the airport installed a CAT-IIIb instrument landing system (ILS) in 2004.
In 2008 a new VIP terminal was added and the terminal extended for extra amenities, restaurants and bars. The terminal was expanded to 15,500 m2 (167,000 sq ft)
By 2010 the old terminal has been nearing its maximum annual capacity. That year the passenger terminal received a major face lift in the course of which a viewing platform with a bar was added.
On 12 April 2012, consortium ZAIC (Aeroports de Paris) received a 30-year concession of the airport from the Government of Croatia. The concession includes financing, designing and constructing a new passenger terminal. The construction of a brand new 70,000 m2 (750,000 sq ft) terminal facility designed by Neidhardt architects of Zagreb and carried out by Bouygues Bâtiment International in partnership with Viadukt began on 18 December 2013 to replace the old terminal. It has an initial annual capacity of 5.5 million passengers in the first phase and was officially completed in October 2016. The official inauguration of the terminal began on 28 March 2017. ZAIC now operates the entire airport for 30 years including the runways, the current passenger terminal, the cargo terminal, car parks and future property developments. The concession contract involves a total investment of €324m (£259m): €236 million for the design and construction of the new terminal and €88 million for operation of all airport infrastructure for the entire period of the concession.
The current terminal building was opened to the public on 28 March 2017.
It stretches over 65.800 square metres on three levels featuring three baggage carousels, eight air bridges, nine security checkpoints, thirty check-in desks, twenty three passport control booths and a car park with the capacity of 1.100 vehicles. Furthermore, the apron has three remote stands next to the terminal, while stands at the old passenger building are also to be used if the need arises. Each of the aircraft parking positions at the facility includes a Visual Docking Guidance System which gives information to a pilot on how to park their aircraft. The terminal itself features a large 600 square metre duty free shop operated by Aelia, sixteen cafés, bars, restaurants and snack bars. Enough space has been left for additional check-in counters and baggage carousels to be added once the new terminal reaches its maximum capacity of five million passengers. Further extensions envisaged along the thirty-year concession period will potentially see capacity increased to eight million.