These days, only the name “Letališka cesta ( Airport road) in the BTC shopping center points to the former airport. Not many people (who are not from the aviation industry) know about its impressive history, which is now being quietly renovated into a museum, pastry shop, and archaeological center.
The first airport in Ljubljana was in Šiška. Since this airport was in the triangle of railway lines, it could not be developed or included in civil traffic airport network. Slovenes were already panicking because of this; despite the severe economic crisis, they wanted to keep up with other nations. Therefore, in 1928, initiatives began to build a new airport, which was built in Polje near Ljubljana (on the plain between Sava and Ljubljanica).
The first plane called Pelikan landed at the new airport on the 29th of July in 1933. It was piloted by the club’s president, and the cartoonist Hinko Smrekar was with him. The next morning, the Lojze plane (designed by Bloudek) landed, and the Brandenburg plane flew in from Belgrade for the purposes of the flight school. The day after, both hangars were baptised, the air club hangar was named after Edvard Rusjan, and the military hangar after the famous military aviator Josip Zupančič.
The big airport opening was on 20 th of august in the year 1933 and it started with a big air show. A special train and buses ran to Polje, and thousands went to the airshow on foot.
Newspapers at the time wrote: “These young people of ours have created an airport for us with that love that leads to the sky above the clouds, these young people have a love for aviation in them – this is what nations need. Our airport is the church of this youth, it is the faith in the progress of our nation. A big eulogy to the Aeroklub workers! They built a new outpost under the giants of our mountains, which will be marked on all European and world airport maps as a permanent airport – Ljubljana.”
Flights were introduced the very next day, the first planes flew from Ljubljana to Zagreb. They also opened a connection with Sušak (the Potez flight lasted half an hour) and Belgrade. The journey to Belgrade took ten hours by train, and at least three and a half hours by plane. Over time, connections were also established with Klagenfurt and later Vienna.
Although the airport was opened, all work was completed only in 1935. The municipality also had quite a few problems with the landowners, with whom, however, over time they found different solutions.
The Ljubljana Aeroclub devoted part of its activities to gliding aviation. As part of the club’s activities, they made the planes themselves, and the airport was at Bloke.
Ljubljana joined the regular, daily air service in 1938 with a connection to Zagreb. Aeroput had 14 planes, 3 cars and 14 buses this year. Traffic on domestic routes was normal, but the flight connection to Vienna was suspended. The approaching war significantly reduced traffic on international lines due to the lack of gasoline, only the most important ones were kept.
At the beginning of the Second World War, the line to Thessaloniki and the barely introduced lines to Tirana and Prague were discontinued, and the connection to Budapest was newly introduced. Despite the canceled connections, the number of transported passengers increased. The year before the war was the most successful for Aeroput.
In 1941, due to the war, companies with pilots were included in the military aviation, where they performed special tasks and transported various delegations.
When the powers attacked on April 6, which started the Second World War in our country, the German Air Force also dropped some bombs on the Ljubljana airport. However, the fire in the hangar did not break out until the night between 10th and April 11th and destroyed everything the aero club owned.
During the Second World War, the airport underwent a certain modernization because it was first used by the Italian and later by the German occupation army for military purposes.
Immediately after the war, the transport of passengers, cargo, and mail was taken over by war transport aviation. Later, however, the military administration was divided and the JAT company took over the management of the airports in Polje and Lesce.
At the time, the airport in Polje was categorized in class F. The grass runway lay in the direction of 116/296 degrees and was 1150 m long and 80 m wide. The airport had another runway, but it was not used for passenger aircraft due to its poor approach.
Landings of aircraft up to 7 tons were possible. DC-3 and smaller aircraft could land. The airport was equipped with radar, which was used by the navy during the war, and there was no night flying, as the runway was not lit.
The airport had a control tower, JAT’s warehouse for spare parts, and a port building with a restaurant. Traffic was carried out once a day on the route Belgrade-Ljubljana-Belgrade and on Sundays the connection Ljubljana-Dubrovnik.
In 1953, the film Vesna was filmed at the Ljubljana airport, and in 1957 its sequel Ne čakaj na maj was filmed. In 1957, they also tested Czech agricultural aircraft.
foto: scenes from film Vesna
foto: Pregled navigaciskih podatka za obezbedenje letenja u RV, thanks to Aleš Štimec
Air traffic was developing and reached a very high level in the world compared to air traffic in Yugoslavia. Also, compared to other countries, very few resources were invested in the development of air transport.
Ljubljana and with it all of Slovenia needed a new airport. At the old location, the expansion of the existing airport was hindered by a number of circumstances, including the planned construction of an industrial zone.
Research for the construction of a new airport began as early as 1948, and due to favorable terrain and weather conditions, the location of today’s Jože Pučnik Airport was chosen. Brnik.
The airport in Polje performed its function until it was moved to Brnik.
Do 7. in October 1962, as many as 781 aircraft landed there, of which 197 were DC-3 (JAT).
The opening of the Brnik airport for public air traffic was on the 24th. December 1963, when the first DC-6B aircraft landed there.
DC-6B today at Jože Pučnik Airport
foto: Primož Jovanović
From then on, the Ljubljana airport in Polje was only used for the aero club and the training unit of military aviation. It was increasingly surrounded by a growing industry until it was discontinued in 1979.
After the aviation activity gave way to the growth of the industrial zone, the airport building and tower began to deteriorate. They were declared a cultural heritage in 1994, and in 2018 and 2019 they were restored and given a new function.
The airport building now houses a pastry shop, the hangar an archeology center (previously a Volkswagen car showroom for many years), and the museum of the history of the Moste-Polje airport got its place in the control tower.
-Letališče Ljubljana, dr. Avguštin Lah/Jure Mežnaršič, Mladinska knjiga 1983
-Letalstvo in Slovenci, Gustav Ajdič/Zoran Jerin, Založba Borec, Ljubljana 1990
-Zgodovina letalstva na Slovenskem, Darinka Kladnik, ZIP, 2008
-Bio Jedan JAT, Jovo Simšić, Beograd 2022
-razstava Ljubljansko letališče na Letališki cesti
Author: Eva Kraš