Trade Air, the Croatian airline specializing in ACMI leasing, will open a base in Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport in Slovenia this summer. It will base an Airbus A320 there to operate charter flights for Slovenian tour operators, as reported by Alen Šćurić on Tango Six. These charter services were previously operated by Adria Airways, which has since gone bankrupt.
What is Trade Air?
Trade Air is a fairly unknown European airline, but the company has been around for 25 years. Together with Croatia Airlines, it is one of two carriers based in Croatia.
While Croatia Airlines is state-owned and recently received financial aid from the Croatian government, Trade Air is privately owned and profitable.
Its current fleet includes one Fokker 100 aircraft, two Airbus A320s and one Turbolet L-410. Trade Air is one of the last remaining airlines to operate the Fokker 100.
One of its Airbus A320s is on a long-term lease in Israel, where Trade Air flies for Israir on a long-term basis. The other A320 will be based in Ljubljana, for the duration of the summer.
What flights will be operated?
The Airbus A320 will be operating flights for three Slovenian tour operators. Flights will be heading for Greece and Turkey, among other destinations.
Last year, these tourist agencies contracted Adria Airways to fly for them. But Adria faced serious operational issues last year, with flights frequently delayed by several hours. It even came under a criminal investigation.
Last month, news emerged that Slovenia has completely given up on the plan to replace Adria Airways with a new national airline. Just weeks later, tour operators have contracted Trade Air to fly charter flights for them.
Why did the agencies choose Trade Air?
Slovenia’s main airport in Ljubljana is located less than 130 kilometers away from Zagreb, where Trade Air is based. As such, it is able to provide charter flights from Ljubljana at a far lower cost than it can for its charter services in Israel.
The proximity of Ljubljana to Zagreb means Trade Air can seamlessly provide maintenance for the A320 aircraft. Also, the crew operating the flights will be based close to their home country and home airport, which again lowers costs for Trade Air.
Adria Airways is almost fully replaced
As Simple Flying reported last month, routes served by Adria Airways have been replaced almost completely. This comes just months after Adria’s bankruptcy.
Wizz Air has returned to Slovenia, Iberia has launched flights for the first time, and Lufthansa Group has started an entire network out of Ljubljana.
British Airways, Montenegro Airlines, Aeroflot and Air France have all doubled frequencies.
As such, Trade Air is just one of many European airlines stepping into a market left vacant by the demise of Adria Airways.
Will we see even more new airlines arriving to Ljubljana? Let us know what you think in the comments below.