Sunday, April 23, 2006

Monday Column - Croatia Destinations 9: Split Airport


Ok, I know that Split Airport is not where you want to spend a week's holiday but if it's your first time in Croatia, the arrival airport will create some lasting first impressions and may set the tone for the rest of your holiday. It's also indicative of what you might expect from the rest of the region.

There are several good points about the airport:

1. It's in the centre of things - a 15 minute drive north west will get you to the beautiful Unesco town of Trogir and a 20 minute drive in the opposite direction will get you into Split.

2. The airport is small and cosy. If you've parked a car there, you can walk straight to it and it won't cost an arm an a leg to park it safely for a few days. The small size has its disadvantages however, particularly in the high season.

3. It has an adequate restaurant and bar on the first floor and also has a newsagent, bank, information desk, a few car hire kiosks, some cash points and a post office.

4. If you have to wait there for a bit you can take a fifteen minute walk to a lovely beach.

5. The duty free in international departures is good, especially for local products, but smokers be aware that there are no official smoking corners once you get to departures.

6. Checking in and getting through security normally takes about 10 minutes so you never need more than an hour except perhaps in July and August. You will need to make allowances for the traffic though, getting to the airport in the high season

On the downside

1. When it's busy, it can be a nightmare to try and park or even drive through the airport amongst all the coaches.

2. The information desk is very helpful but there's not much literature generally available.

3. Coaches into Split are based around Croatian Airlines timetables so if you are reliant on public transport you will have to get a local bus, into Split or Trogir, just outside the airport. Airport side of the road for Trogir, sea side of the road for Split. The buses have a lot of stops to make so it can take a while and the buses may be jammed if your arrival coincides with school starting or finishing.

4. If you arrive very early or late, all the car hire desks and almost everything else may be closed.

5. It can take an age to get through passport control.

6. The national departures lounge is too small for a whole plane load so go through security early if you want a seat while you're waiting.

7. If there's a delay, the ground staff are not really geared up to deal with the logistics. I had a 23 hour delay on a BA flight last year and the ground staff told the passengers to find their own overnight accomodation as everywhere was fully booked!

Split Airport reminds me very much of Malaga airport 25 years ago. It will surely have to undertake some major development to cope with the increasing traffic and it's difficult to see how it can expand much on its present site so it may well have to relocate. Selfishly, I rather hope that they take a few more flights to the more remote Zadar airport, two hours drive away.

For more information on Split Airport, visit www.split-airport.hr

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