Two EX-YU flag carriers drafted plans for Ljubljana base

Croatia Airlines and Air Serbia both presented plans for the opening of a base at Ljubljana Airport over the past two years, however, no progress was made after the government refused to approve the requested financial support. The two carriers have since dropped such plans. Lobbying documents show that upon Croatia Airlines’ request, talks were held with the Slovenian Ministry for Infrastructure, as well as the Ministry for Economic Development and Technology, in May and August of 2020. The carrier presented a cooperation proposal, which included the stationing of a Dash 8 turboprop aircraft and flights to key European cities, as well as popular unserved destinations from the Slovenian capital such as Skopje. However, after submitting a final offer to the Slovenian government, no deal was reached.

Air Serbia also presented plans to establish operations from Ljubljana to several European destinations in September 2020. The then CEO of the carrier, Duncan Naysmith, was accompanied to Ljubljana by Luka Tomić, the head of the Cabinet of the Serbian Minister for Finance, as well as the assistant in charge for aviation from the Serbian Ministry for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zoran Ilić, where they held talks with the Slovenian Ministry for Infrastructure. “Air Serbia presented its proposal for linking Slovenia with nonstop flights to key markets, as well as flights via Belgrade. The airline outlined potential plans to open a base in Ljubljana, acquire a Slovenian Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), presented its strategy and network, and potential routes from Slovenia”, documents from the Slovenian Ministry for Infrastructure show. The two sides met again in February of last year.

Over the past two years, the Slovenian Ministry for Economic Development and Technology has turned down several offers by airlines to either establish the country’s new national carrier or station aircraft in Ljubljana, noting that none would have sufficiently improved the country’s connectivity and were “short-term oriented”. “There was actually no appropriate proposal which would have enabled passengers travelling from or to Slovenia to benefit from high quality service, based on the proposed destinations, the timing and flight schedules, as well as the opportunities for connecting onto flights at Europe’s most important hubs”, the Ministry told EX-YU Aviation news earlier this year. More recently, low cost carriers Wizz Air, easyJet and Ryanair have all shown interest in concluding cooperation agreements with the country’s Ministry for Infrastructure and the Ministry for Economic Development and Technology concerning the launch of new routes to Ljubljana. However, no agreement has so far been reached.

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