Croatia Airlines Eyes Ljubljana Base As Airport Passengers Drop Below 0.5M

Croatia Airlines will submit a proposal to Slovenia this week about possible cooperation between the airline and Ljubljana in the near future. If Slovenia agrees and provides subsidies to Croatia Airlines, this would effectively be a part replacement for Adria Airways. Let’s take a look at the potential plans.

Croatia Airlines Dash 8 Zagreb Franjo Tudman Airport
Croatia Airlines Dash 8 aircraft could soon be flying out of Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport in Slovenia on a daily basis. Photo: Croatia Airlines

Croatia Airlines proposes a base in Ljubljana

Delo reported last week that Croatia Airlines would be submitting a proposal to the government of Slovenia concerning a possible opening of a base in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport. This is not the first sign of this news: local media have been reporting for weeks that Croatia Airlines and Slovenia are in talks about a possible base opening.

To open the base, Croatia Airlines is asking for incentives. At the same time, Fraport Slovenija, the operator of Ljubljana Airport, is asking Slovenia to provide blanket incentives to all airlines. This may well happen, seeing that Slovenia lost a lot of air traffic capacity following the bankruptcy of its 59-year old flag carrier Adria Airways in 2019. Furthermore, Slovenia has completely abandoned any plans to replace Adria Airways, so a Croatia Airlines base in Ljubljana may well be likely.

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Adria Airways A319
Croatia Airlines could fill the gaps left by the bankruptcy of Adria Airways, much of which has still not been replaced. Photo: Getty Images

What could Croatia Airlines’ Slovenia destinations be?

The routes which have been confirmed as potential destinations of interest for Croatia Airlines’ flights out of Ljubljana are Vienna, Skopje, Prague, and Copenhagen. All four of these are routes that Adria Airways used to operate, and which have never been replaced since Adria’s bankruptcy.

All of these four destinations are also airports that Croatia Airlines already flies to from its base in Franjo Tuđman Airport Zagreb. To Vienna and Copenhagen, it also flies to from its focus city of Split.

Croatia Airlines Zagreb Airport
Croatia Airlines operates a fleet of Airbus and Dash 8 aircraft, but because of COVID-19 some of it remains grounded. Photo: Getty Images

A new incentives model in Ljubljana?

Fraport Slovenija wants Slovenia to subsidize all airlines flying to Ljubljana with a ten euro payment per passenger. The model would offer transparency and fairness because it would allocate state funds equally to all airlines. It would also lower the risk of possibly all airlines canceling flights to Slovenia this winter if the ongoing slump in demand for air travel continues as a result of COVID-19.

Furthermore, Fraport Slovenija wants Slovenia to market Ljubljana as a tourist destination that is free from COVID-19, and yet in the heart of Europe, green, and in the European Union and Schengen. Fraport believes that the incentives package would attract tourists to the airport, which is badly needed as passenger numbers are expected to be less than 500,000 this year.

Do you think Croatia Airlines will eventually receive subsidies from the Slovenian government, and start flying from Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below!