Austrian Airlines explores return to Ljubljana amid talks with government

Austrian Airlines has held talks with the Slovenian Ministry for Economy, Tourism and Sports, where the two sides discussed Slovenia’s air connectivity. It is the latest in a string of high-profile meetings between the government and foreign carriers and the first time the Austrian airline has met with state officials. Ljubljana Airport recently noted that it is also in talks with Austrian Airlines in order to regain flights to Vienna, which were discontinued upon the demise of Adria Airways in 2019. “The obstacle is the capacity available at Austrian Airlines, as it currently does not have a suitable smaller aircraft that would make it worthwhile to fly to Ljubljana. We are in constant contact with them regarding the establishment of flights to Vienna and, of course, we are working towards this, and we hope that it will be back in our network as soon as possible”, the General Manager of the airport’s operator Fraport Slovenija, Babett Stapel, said last week.

The Lufthansa Group was quick to respond to the collapse of Adria Airways in 2019 by covering key routes served by the former Slovenian flag carrier and ensuring the continued flow of transfer passengers through its hubs. Lufthansa commenced operations from Munich and Frankfurt, Brussels Airlines from the Belgian capital and Swiss from Zurich. However, Austrian Airlines has notably skipped the opportunity to introduce services between Vienna and Ljubljana, despite passenger figures indicating there is solid demand. Services to the Austrian capital were one of Adria’s better performing routes, with double daily flights maintained over the summer months and an average of around 60.000 passengers per year.
Ljubljana – Vienna route passenger performance

Adria Airways relied on transfer passengers between the two, both those headed or originating from regional markets such as Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as those originating or heading to Ljubljana from other destinations in Europe and North America. However, a sizable number of travellers were still point-to-point. Notably an additional 10.925 people flew indirectly between the two capital cities in 2019, although this was mostly generated in the third and fourth quarters when Adria was cancelling a number of flights before ultimately declaring bankruptcy. Austrian Airlines had previously operated its own flights to Ljubljana, discontinuing its daily service on the fifty-seat Dah 8-300 turboprop at the end of the 2005 summer season. Adria Airways then increased its operations to the Austrian capital, maintaining four daily rotations until the 2009 global financial crisis. In its final summer season of 2019, Adria Airways served Vienna twice per day.

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