Entry of Croatian airports into the Schengen border regime

With the first minute of 2023, Republic of Croatia officially entered the Schengen area, which abolished border crossings at road, rail and sea crossings with other countries of the Schengen area. Despite this, due to the necessary infrastructure works, the entry of airports into the same cross-border traffic regime was postponed to the first day of the summer flight schedule, i.e. to March 26, 2023. On this occasion, we sent a query to all international airports in Croatia with the same question: Is the airport infrastructurally ready for the introduction of the Schengen cross-border regime and whether positive developments in the passenger experience and, accordingly, an increase in the number of passengers are expected. The answers are given below:

Zagreb Airport

“Works on adaptation to the Schengen regime at Franjo Tuđman Airport began back in December 2022, now are in the final phase and everything will be ready for Sunday. The biggest adaptation is to changes of the flow of passengers, given that we expect that from March 26, domestic (Schengen) passengers will be around 70%, compared to international (non – Schengen) passengers of 30%.

The works include changes in the positions of the control of travel documents, the departure passport control booths will be moved from the third to the second floor, and the number of departure passport control booths will be reduced, as less passenger traffic is expected on international flights compared to domestic flights. Corridors for passengers to boarding bridges on domestic flights are being expanded, as well as waiting room areas on domestic flights. All of this involved the adaptation of various airport systems, signs for passengers, etc., the works were carried out continuously and during the night.

The Schengen flow of passengers up to the security check remains the same, until the beginning of the Schengen regime, passengers after the security check were separated to the left for international traffic and to the right for domestic traffic. From now on, after security control, all passengers will go down to the left to the second floor, everyone can use the commercial areas and business lounge located there, and after that international passengers go to passport control, which is in a new location after the duty free shop.

All the works will be finished on time, the value of the works is 1 million euros, and it is expected that from Sunday, travelers traveling to and from Schengen member countries will have easier travel and faster flow, which will certainly bring positive developments in passenger experience, and therefore positively influence traffic results in the future.

A total of 108 departing and arriving flights are expected on Sunday, March 26, 2023. 53 incoming flights are expected, of which 10 are outside the Schengen area (international flights), and 43 flights are within the Schengen area (domestic). A total of 55 flights are expected to depart, of which 11 are outside the Schengen area (international flights) and 44 flights are within the Schengen area, i.e. domestic flights.”


Zadar Airport

“”Zadar Airport is ready to apply the so-called Schengen regime in the arrival/departure of passengers. Two completely new temporary annexes have been built on the building that we will use for the arrival/departure of passengers. The final details are still being “made up”, but until Sunday, March 26 everything will be ready. About 2.2 million euros have been invested.

The biggest changes are in the passenger flows themselves, which will be simpler and easier for all travelers within the Schengen area, i.e. without passport control. For passengers outside this regime, nothing actually changes, except that they will have a new departure terminal at our airport. In particular, three new departure gates have been arranged in the departure annex of the building, which, in addition to the existing five, will greatly facilitate the flow of departing passengers. As for arrival, there is also an arrival terminal with three police check-points for passport control.

This year, we expect a 5 percent increase in passenger traffic compared to the previous, record-breaking year of 2022, when we recorded million traffic for the first time. At the end of the year, we stopped at 1.1 million passengers, which is an exceptional result for us, considering that we are the first Croatian airport to exceed pre-pandemic traffic. We do not expect major crowds with the start of the summer flight schedule. However, they are reserved for the very peak of the season when we have 100 to 150 rotations per day. On the first day, we expect 24 aircraft rotations, and outside the Schengen regime we expect passengers from Dublin, which we welcome with joy because they are one of our most popular destinations.”

Split Airport

“Split airport is ready. The Schengen-aera implementation process was all the easier because the passenger terminal (completed in 2019) was designed for the application of the Schengen border crossing rules, so all traffic flows were already adapted to those circumstances. The only thing that needed to be done was to move the existing check-points for border control to another location in the departures area of ​​the passenger terminal. Gates 1-7 are now for Schengen passengers and gates 8-11 for non-Schengen passengers. Of course we expect an increase in the number of passengers, especially if we consider that we have 80% Schengen passengers this will certainly contribute to a positive passenger experience and further growth in the number of passengers.”

Dubrovnik Airport

“Dubrovnik Airport has been preparing for the entry of the Republic of Croatia into the Schengen zone for a long time. Infrastructural works are being carried out in the arrivals area of ​​the passenger terminal for passengers from non-Schengen destinations and third countries. Most of the mentioned works have already been completed, while some final works will be carried out on the night of March 25 to 26 due to operational requirements. Gates 1-5 on the first floor and 20, 20A and 21 on the second are intended for non-Schengen flights and destinations, while 6- 12 on the first floor and 23 and 24 on the second floor intended for Schengen flights.

Entry into the Schengen zone significantly facilitates travel for all citizens of Schengen zone members, and we believe that all Schengen travelers will be much more satisfied because they do not have to wait at border control, so we expect even better results from those markets during the season.”


Rijeka Airport

“Rijeka Airport is fully prepared for the application of the Schengen cross-border regime at the beginning of the summer flight schedule on March 26, 2023. With regard to the necessary infrastructure investments for the implementation of Schengen entry measures, Rijeka Airport has invested in the relocation of border control points for departing and arriving passengers, and the installation of partitions for the necessary separation of Schengen and non-Schengen passenger flows. Nothing will change significantly for passengers, except that all passengers coming from countries belonging to the Schengen cross-border regime, as well as those going to the countries of the Schengen area, will no longer have to pass border control of documents (the border control point for departing passengers has been moved in front of the gate for non-Schengen passengers), which will certainly speed up their arrival and departure compared to before.

We certainly expect positive developments in the form of reduced congestion in both outgoing and incoming passenger flows, which will certainly increase passenger satisfaction, but also facilitate and speed up the time required for the reception and dispatch of aircraft and passengers. Considering the fact that the Rijeka Airport has in its flight schedule mostly destinations within the Schengen cross-border regime (out of a total of 18 destinations, only 3 destinations are outside Schengen), we expect that the fact of reduced crowds due to the entry of the Republic of Croatia into the Schengen cross-border regime, as well as the entry Croatia in the eurozone, ultimately lead to even better aircraft occupancy during the summer season, and thus to an increase in passengers.”

Brač Airport

“Our airport is infrastructurally prepared for the introduction of the Schengen cross-border regime. The flows are clearly laid out and passengers will find their way around very easily. The area that was previously intended for passengers on domestic flights has now been repurposed as an area for non-Schengen passengers, while the area that was intended for international arrivals is now an area for Schengen passengers.

Of course, the developments are positive, first of all, because of the waiting for documents to be scanned, while entering Schengen will be much simpler, the passenger collects his luggage and heads for the exit, and of course because of the traffic increase announcements for the 2023 season. Also because of also simplified procedures, we believe that there will be an increase in the number of passengers.”

Osijek Airport

“Currently, both incoming and outgoing gates can be used for Schengen and non-Schengen flights if the flights do not overlap. Passengers will not have to go through border control for flights within Schengen. A large number of our passengers come from BiH and Serbia – they will, as before border control should be done at the road border crossing, while in our country there will be no need for it if it is a Schengen flight. On the other hand, for non-Schengen flights, all passengers will have to go through border control with the presentation of their passport.”

Pula Airport

„Pula Airport was actually the first airport in the Republic of Croatia that received a positive opinion and approval from the Ministry of the Interior for the reconstruction of the port building in the context of meeting the conditions of the Schengen border back in October 2014. Accordingly, all technical prerequisites were fulfilled long before the formal entry of the Republic of Croatia into Schengen. The great advantage of our reconstruction is the possibility of modular use of all 4 gates in such a way that our staff can make a decision on a daily basis which flights will be processed at which gate. In other words, we do not have specially “reserved” exits for passengers, be they Schengen or non-Schengen; each of them can be used in both cases and the separation is done by the method of glass partitions and the system of automatic doors. In arrival, we have the same principle, i.e. a modular approach for all passenger flows that adapts to the situation and traffic picture. We are currently in the final preparations for the reception and dispatch of passengers according to the new state border crossing regime, and for the first flight that is planned for March 26. from the destination London Stansted be ready.

For passengers coming from destinations within the Schengen area, we certainly expect a higher level of satisfaction for the simple reason that the time period required for the procedure of arrival at or departure from the airport will be significantly shorter. For passengers coming from destinations outside the Schengen area, the procedure for crossing the state border remains the same as in previous years, except that the border control for departing passengers is now located in a different location (closer to the passenger exits). Given that Schengen brings certain advantages, we expect that this could have a positive effect on the “load factor”.“

Leave a Reply