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Croatia airlines aircraft in flight Qatar airplane

Zagreb Airport, Croatia

Mott MacDonald was the traffic advisor to ZAIC Consortium for its bid which won the public private partnership concession to finance, design, build, operate and maintain a new 65,000 sq m. passenger terminal with related infrastructure at Zagreb Airport.

Mott has largely contributed to the success of our consortium, having being with us since the beginning. Also being reactive in the last three years when needed, and your constant support and the hard work (and qualitative work) provided to us.

Arnaud Sabatier – Aeroports de Paris Management

2013Winner of the European Airport Deal of the Year (Project Finance Awards)
ExpertiseTraffic forecasting, masterplanning and concession bid support

The €331M project covers €243M for the design and construction of the passenger terminal and €88M for the maintenance of airport infrastructure during the concessionary period.


Croatia’s entry into the EU in July 2013 was originally predicted to act as a stimulus for significant economic growth. As the capital city and primary commercial centre of Croatia, Zagreb was expected to see further growth as well as a substantial increase in air traffic. In stark contrast to previous EU accession countries Croatia joined the EU during the global economic recession. Therefore, understanding the realistic level of growth attributable to accession was a particular challenge but one absolutely vital to assessing future growth prospects for the airport.

Zagreb has an unusually high volume of transfer traffic for an airport of its size (it serves approximately two million passengers each year) – a consequence of national carrier Croatia Airlines' main hub operating from there with connections from western and northern Europe to south-eastern Europe and the Balkans.

With Croatia Airlines being a key partner for the airport it was vital that we evaluate their likely development strategy and future fleet size in order to construct realistic traffic forecast scenarios for the years ahead.


Our air traffic demand forecasts included landed tons forecasts, stand demand forecasts, peak forecasts for passengers, along with cargo and air transport movements at Zagreb Airport for the period of 2010 to 2045. These detailed forecasts enabled efficient and cost-effective phasing of new infrastructure developments – including a passenger terminal building, apron, ancillary facilities and surface access which enabled the consortium to submit a winning concession price that was financeable.

We evaluated the underlying drivers for the hub operations of Croatia Airlines down to the true origin and destination of passengers passing through the airport. This identified the impact that dynamic route development would have on traffic throughput which has since been highlighted by the commencement of services by Qatar Airways, British Airways, Etihad Regional and KLM.

Benefits and value

Our peak and stand demand forecasts played a crucial role in determining terminal requirements through inputs into the airport master plan. This minimised Capex costs and phasing which improved the bid price and enabled our client to become the preferred bidder on the concession.

We contributed to discussions with potential lending institutions during the period prior to financial close. We also provided a strong rationale behind our forecast numbers which gave lenders confidence that the business case was ‘bankable’. This included:

  • Giving real world traffic advice that considered realistic airline behaviour and Croatian market dynamics.
  • Understanding the importance of Croatia Airways to the airport and providing scenarios to illustrate how Zagreb’s traffic profile could look in future with a wider range of airlines and destinations offered.
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