airBaltic plans Ljubljana service in 2024

airBaltic plans to commence flights between Riga and Ljubljana during the 2024 summer season, which begins on March 31. The carrier was also the only one to apply for the Slovenian government’s public call aimed at improving the country’s air connectivity in return for subsidies. The state commission for the granting of aid will now determine if airBaltic meets all the set requirements. The new service will mark the first time Riga and Ljubljana have been linked with a scheduled air service. Although the Slovenian government’s efforts to attract carriers by offering subsidies has resulted in a new entrant onto the market, it will be considered a disappointment considering the low interest shown by the aviation sector.

airBaltic recently hinted at its interest in the Slovenian market. In an interview, the airline’s Vice President for Network Development, Mantas Vrubliauskas, said, “I think we can all agree that air connectivity in Slovenia should be improved, but I am not sure if a national carrier is the answer. The forces within the EU’s single aviation market will inevitably lead to the consolidation of airlines, and only the fittest carriers will survive. Having said that, economic development is so closely linked to air connectivity, and countries should do more to increase it. I think it is difficult to solve this, but countries should find legal mechanisms to incentivise airlines (for example, PSO schemes or similar), they should invest into airports and make them commercially attractive, and they should also do a lot of destination marketing. I think Slovenia is doing quite a lot already in all of these areas, and I sincerely hope they will soon see the results”. He added, “Slovenia is definitely interesting for us too, and I think A220s is the right aircraft type for this market”. LOT Polish Airlines has benefited the most from Ljubljana’s lack of connectivity to the Baltic states, with Tallinn, Vilnius and Riga all ranking highly with connecting passengers on its Ljubljana service. airBaltic has expanded its presence in the region this year with the launch of new routes to Belgrade, Tivat, Split and Dubrovnik. 
This is the second public call the Slovenian government has issued for airlines to launch flights to the country in return for subsidies. During the first call earlier this year two carriers applied – Luxair and Air Montenegro. The latter, which already serves Ljubljana from Podgorica and Tivat, intended on linking the Slovenian capital with several regional destinations but has shelved such plans under new management. On the other hand, Luxair will commence services from Luxembourg this September. Despite airBaltic being the only carrier to apply for the second public call, a third one will be launched this November. The government is considering the establishment of a new national carrier with a private partner from the aviation industry and plans to reveal more details on the matter this autumn.

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