The Slovenian government is in talks with several carriers over their role in improving the country’s air connectivity. Some are interested in establishing a new local airline, while others are seeking ways to use state subsidies to launch new routes. “Government representatives or ministries are talking to anyone who expresses an interest in this. Among them are Air France, Croatia Airlines, Cyprus Airways and at least one or two more companies. My feeling is that they are interested”, Slovenia’s Minister for Infrastructure, Alenka Bratušek, said. She added, “The goal is to find a strategic partner that could perform approximately sixty operations per week to eleven destinations from Slovenia”.
Cyprus Airways has been in talks with several governments to establish new bases, while it is considering the possibility of a new locally branded airline in Slovenia. “In our longer-term plans we are looking at establishing several bases in the Mediterranean and possibly beyond”, Cyprus Airways’ CEO, Paul Sies, said, adding that the carrier is open to continuing discussions with the Slovenian government over a potential new national airline. Talks between the two sides were held on July 5, where the Slovenian government concluded that, “They [Cyprus Airways] are interested in establishing a company in Slovenia and possibly in some other countries in the region in the future”.
On the other hand, Croatia Airlines has shown greater interest in establishing services from Ljubljana to destinations such as Sarajevo and Pristina without necessarily basing an aircraft in the Slovenian capital, but rather incorporating these flights with its operations from Croatia. Ms Bratušek said it is too early to draw any conclusions whether the talks with any of the interested parties will be successful. The government has expressed interest in establishing a new national carrier in partnership with a private entity. However, Ms Bratušek noted, “Today, it is absolutely too early to say whether we will be able to launch a new company with a strategic partner. The subsidy tenders [for the launch of new routes from Slovenia] are the first step towards better connectivity”. During the first tender aimed at improving the state of Slovenia’s aviation sector, two carriers applied for subsidies – Air Montenegro and Luxair – with the latter to launch operations from Luxembourg to Ljubljana in September. The government has branded the lack of interest for the tender as a disappointment. A second public call was recently launched.