The little airstrip at Portoroz in Slovenia has never featured prominently in Europe’s flight schedules. The airfield is south of the town of Portoroz, and built on water meadows near the Dragonja river. With the break-up of federal Yugoslavia, Portoroz Airport might have found a role serving the resorts on Slovenia’s short stretch of Adriatic coast. Both workaday Portoroz and beautiful Piran are within a few minutes drive of the airfield.
That never happened. The airfield is right by the border with Croatia in an area where land ownership is disputed. Happily, the quarrel between Croatia and Slovenia over the line of their common border near the Dragonja river and in Piran Bay is edging towards a resolution. And just in time, for scheduled flights to Portoroz are due to start in April. Ljubljana airport closes for two weeks just after Easter for runway repairs, and suddenly landing space in Slovenia is at a premium. Most airlines will relocate to Maribor airport in the north of the country while Ljubljana airport is shut. But the Serbian airline JAT has opted instead for Portoroz. And JAT has said that, even after they start serving Ljubljana again when the capital city airport reopens in late April, they will continue to offer twice weekly flights from Belgrade to Portoroz.
Late last year, Slovenia abolished the visa requirement for Serbian citizens wanting to holiday in Slovenia. And so the coast of Slovenia has a renewed appeal for folk in landlocked Serbia. Back in the days of Tito, Portoroz was a popular summer destination for Belgrade residents. In the year that marks the thirtieth anniversary of Tito’s death, Portoroz is suddenly back in fashion. JAT’s first flight to Portoroz is on Thursday 15 April.
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries