Albania: fears grow over environmental impact of new airport

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A new airport and new routes may take pressure off creaking buses – but at what cost to a valuable wetland for flamingos and other birds?

Black smoke billows from the front of the bus. With no air-conditioning besides the sympathetic wafting of a folded map from another passenger, I’m five hours into a bus journey from Tirana to Sarandë. Has the engine exploded? I’m not too sure. But judging by the groans of the driver and other passengers, this is far from ideal.

For many visitors, this is the reality of travelling in Albania. Buses and car hire are the primary methods of transportation – so incidents like these are pretty regular. The only two cities accessible by international flights are Tirana and Kukës in the north, leaving mid and south Albania fairly inaccessible unless travelling by bus or car. However, Albanian transportation is shifting. Flight routes to Albania are increasing, and not everyone is happy about it.

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