Flag Carriers Flock To Slovenia After Adria Airways Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy of Adria Airways left Slovenia with limited air connectivity. But foreign airlines are increasing frequencies and launching new routes from the country’s only airport in Ljubljana. Will Slovenia benefit from the collapse of Adria Airways in the end, just like Hungary did with Malev?

Adria Lugano
The bankruptcy of Adria Airways might turn out to be very beneficial for Slovenia. Photo: Bene Riobo via Wikimedia Commons

Brussels Airlines was first

Just before the bankruptcy of Adria Airways, the Slovenian government announced it would be giving 4.5 million Euros to its flag carrier to subsidize its operations to Brussels. This was reported by CH-Aviation at the time.

The subsidy for flights between Ljubljana and Brussels was a way for the Slovenian government to circumvent the EU legislation that prevents countries from giving financial aid to their flag carriers.

The best illustration of how this subsidy was not necessary is that Adria Airways had been flying to Brussels for more than a decade at the time when it received the subsidy. In fact, in 2015 it even had scheduled flights between Pristina and Brussels.

Furthermore, following the collapse of Adria Airways in September, Brussels was the very first route to be launched out of Ljubljana. Brussels Airlines made the announcement before any other airline did.

This makes sense since flights between Ljubljana and Brussels are used by politicians and civil servants who are not price sensitive, since their ticket prices are covered by their governments.

Brussels Airlines
Brussels Airlines was the first to step in because Ljubljana-Brussels is a lucrative market. Photo: Brussels Airlines

Wizz Air returns to Slovenia

Another airline that wants a share of the Ljubljana-Brussels market is Wizz Air. The low cost carrier flies to Charleroi Airport just south of Brussels. It flies three times weekly all year except between January and March.

Interestingly, Wizz Air announced in early September that it would be pulling out of Slovenia completely. It had discontinued ticket sales even for summer 2020 for both its flights out of Ljubljana: London Luton and Brussels Charleroi.

But Wizz Air has since put tickets back on sale, in a quick reaction following the Adria Airways bankruptcy. The low cost carrier did not wait long to start flights – they already resumed in December.

Iberia is coming

For the first time ever, Iberia will be flying between Slovenia and Spain when it launches flights from Ljubljana to Madrid in July 2020. Flights will operate four times weekly with Iberia’s A319 and A320 aircraft.

Adria Airways previously maintained flights to both Madrid and Barcelona, but exited the market when it began cutting flights in the wake of increased financial difficulty.

Iberia A319
Iberia will be in Ljubljana for the first time. Photo: Iberia

Lufthansa Group has already taken over

As Simple Flying previously analysed, Adria Airways’s strategy had long been positioning itself as a feeder to Star Alliance hubs, in particular towards the bases of Lufthansa Group airlines.

It is therefore unsurprising that Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa and Swiss stepped in within weeks of Adria’s collapse to cover its routes to Zurich, Frankfurt, Munich and Brussels.

As of next summer, Lufthansa has even scheduled an overnight stay for its CRJ900 aircraft every night in Ljubljana, so that it may have an early morning departure out of Slovenia. This will significantly boost connectivity for local passengers. It will also match what used to be Adria’s morning departure to Frankfurt, which Lufthansa used to code-share on.

Other airlines are doubling frequencies

At the same time, airlines that used to maintain flights before Adria’s bankruptcy are significantly boosting their offering out of Ljubljana now that the Slovenian flag carrier is gone.

British Airways is already selling tickets for four weekly flights to London Heathrow, up from two last year. Montenegro Airlines has scheduled six weekly flights out of Podgorica, up from three weekly last summer.

Also, as we previously reported, Aeroflot and Air France have doubled their own services out of Ljubljana to Moscow and Paris respectively. This is to match the seat capacity lost from Adria Airways, which used to maintain daily flights to Moscow and two-daily to Paris for decades.

Just two months after Adria Airways went bankrupt, foreign airlines have flocked to Ljubljana to launch new routes and increase frequencies. Will this cause Slovenian politicians to give up on their plan to establish a new national airline?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.