Former Etihad CEO James Hogan In Talks With Slovenia On Aviation

James Hogan, the former President of Etihad Aviation Group, has been spotted in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, entering the Ministry of Infrastructure. Slovenia is grappling with Europe’s worst loss of air connectivity as a result of the pandemic and the bankruptcy of its former flag carrier, Adria Airways.

Etihad (ADNOC - Choose China Livery) Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLF
James Hogan of Etihad Aviation Group is reportedly drawing up plans to create a new national airline in Slovenia. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

James Hogan sighted in Slovenia

The former President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, James Hogan, has been spotted this week in Ljubljana, Danas reports.

He was spotted entering the Slovenian Ministry of Infrastructure, the arm of Slovenia’s Government that is in charge of the aviation sector. Hogan was previously spotted in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, just before the country set up its new national airline, Air Montenegro.

James Hogan was accompanied by Mlađan Dinkić, formerly an Economy Minister in Serbia and currently the owner of MD Solution, a consultancy.

The two of them were reportedly in Slovenia together to propose to the Government of Slovenia the creation of a new national airline. For this, they reportedly charged a consultancy fee of 400,000 euros ($475,000).

The Slovenian Government is reportedly particularly interested in this proposal because Hogan and Dinkić were instrumental in the creation of Air Serbia, the Serbian national airline that is a much more successful airline than its predecessor brand Jat Airways ever was.

James Hogan Air Serbia
In August 2013, James Hogan launched Air Serbia out of failing Jat Airways. Photo: Getty Images

Why was James Hogan making the proposal?

Slovenia is one of the most impacted countries in the world when it comes to air connectivity during the ongoing pandemic.

As Simple Flying reported in July, the country achieved less than 9% of its 2019 traffic in the first six months of 2021. The total number of passengers in all of Slovenia was just 70,011 in the first half (H1) of this year.

Between October 2020 and the summer of 2021, there were days when there was not a single passenger service departing Ljubljana all day. It started with there being no flights on Tuesdays, every week.

The situation then got progressively worse until February and March 2021, when there was not a single flight departing Ljubljana for three days in a row, week after week. For a period of several months, all of Slovenia had no flights at all on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

This is not just due to the pandemic: Slovenia’s aviation sector is facing a far deeper crisis than other European countries because Slovenia decided not to form another national airline after the collapse of Adria Airways.

Adria Airways CRJ-700 on the runway
Slovenia never replaced Adria Airways. Photo: Getty Images

Why was Adria Airways not replaced?

After Adria Airways collapsed in September 2019, Slovenia’s Prime Minister at the time, Marjan Šarec, said that the risk of founding a new national airline is too great because it would involve too great of an investment and because it would be loss-making.

However, Slovenia’s current Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, has been a major proponent for the creation of an Adria Airways 2.0 for the past three years continuously.

The issue of a new flag carrier was put to bed completely earlier this year, but the sighting of Hogan and Dinkić tells a different story. It will be interesting to see what comes of this meeting in the next few weeks.

Do you think Slovenia will set up a new national airline in the end?

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