Ex-Adria Airways Pilot To Launch An All-A320 Slovenian Airline

Slovenia has a new airline, SouthEast Airlines, and its founders mean business. SouthEast Airlines was founded at the start of this year by a former A320 pilot of Slovenia’s collapsed flag carrier, Adria Airways. With Slovenia’s aviation industry in a dire state, the former Adria pilot has joined forces with aviation industry experts, former Adria employees, and a Chinese investor who bought the Adria Airways pilot academy to create SouthEast Airlines. They plan for it to be an all-A320 airline with economy-class planes only.

Ex-Adria Airways Pilot To Launch An All-A320 Slovenian Airline
The demise of Adria Airways has left a staggering market gap in Slovenian aviation. Photo: Alex Beltyukov via Wikimedia

A new Slovenian airline

Slovenia has a new airline, a year and a half after the collapse of its 58-year old flag carrier, Adria Airways. The new airline is called SouthEast Airlines and one of its founders is Blaž Berdnik, a former Adria Airways pilot. Sierra5 reports that Berdnik has 22 years of experience in the aviation industry, among which are his tenure as an A320 pilot in Adria Airways and a position as an instructor for EASA. Commenting on his founding of SouthEast Airlines, Mr Berdnik said,

“Sometime in the beginning of 2019, my team and I decided that it might be time for a fresh approach in Slovenia. Of course, the preparations for such a project are very intensive and that is why it took somewhere between 18 and 20 months for us to reveal our plans to the public.

”In January, following the first official interview at the Civil Aviation Agency of the Republic of Slovenia, we also officially confirmed our intentions to establish a new airline based in Slovenia.”

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Starting off with charter flights

SouthEast Airlines intends to start off its operations with a focus on the charter flights market first. It has already signed a tour operator contract which will see it perform an extensive program of charter flights this summer. The plan relies on SouthEast Airlines obtaining an Air Operators Certificate first, though, and currently it does not have one. Commenting on the new airline’s immediate plans, Mr Berdnik said,

“Getting started is always difficult, so we are currently focusing on markets within the European Union. Given the current state of the epidemic, we anticipate that the air transport market in Europe will stabilize sometime in the spring or during the summer of next year. 

“This year will be a year of opportunities, especially for those who have a good plan and good business connections. Europeans want to travel, which was also shown last summer when certain countries opened up for a short time.”

Inex Adria Airways Bremen Ljubljana DC-9
Adria Airways was 58 years old when it collapsed. Photo: Oxfordian Kissuth via Wikimedia

An all-A320 operator

The current plan, in line with Mr Berdnik being an A320 pilot, is for SouthEast Airlines to operate of fleet of 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft in economy-only configuration. The airline is already negotiating the details of its first A320 lease, and it hopes to have another A320 by the end of 2021. By 2023, it hoped to have six A320 aircraft.

The intention is for SouthEast Airlines to start flying in June this year, pending the receipt of its AOC. Cabin crew training is already under way. However, the airline is yet to decide if it wants to be based in Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, serving Slovenia’s capital city, or in Maribor Airport (MBX), which currently has no scheduled flights at all.

Do you think SouthEast Airlines will turn out to be a success story? Let us know what you think of this development in the comments below.