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Solving Slovenia’s poor air connectivity – ten connections will be subsidized in the first round



In the second step, the government will weigh the possibilities of establishing a new airline

After the collapse of Adria Airways and the covid-19 pandemic, Slovenia landed among the worst air-connected European countries. In the first step, the government will solve the situation by subsidizing air connections. There are ten destinations on the priority list.

The government set out to solve Slovenia’s deteriorating air connectivity in two steps – by preparing the Program for greater air connectivity in Slovenia in the years 2023-2025 and then looking for the possibility of establishing a new national airline. At the heart of the program for greater air connectivity in Slovenia will be a tender for subsidizing air connections. These are divided into three categories.

Priority list ten routes cover Vienna, Brussels, Copenhagen, Athens, Madrid, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Prague, Berlin and Skopje.

If funds are still available after the first round, he is ready supplementary list seven tracks. These are connections to Rome, Stockholm, Oslo, Barcelona, ​​Lisbon, Pristina and Paris.

If, even after the second round, the subsidy funds are not fully utilized, according to the minister, another additional list route “This actually covers all destinations in the territory of the common European area. In addition to the EU, these are also Norway, Iceland and the Balkans.” she explained.

The tender for the first ten destinations is expected to be published on March 24

Slovenia’s air accessibility has been falling sharply since 2019, when the domestic air carrier Adria Airways collapsed. The covid-19 pandemic also dealt a second blow to Slovenia’s air connectivity. Although this affected practically all countries in Europe and the world, the data show that the recovery of Slovenian air traffic is among the worst in the EU, the infrastructure minister warned at the press conference Alenka Bratušek.

The program that will ease the situation was prepared by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Economy, Minister Alenka Bratušek and Minister Matjaž Han but they have already co-signed it. In order for the public tender for subsidizing air connections to be published, the consent of the European Commission is also required. “We are also in almost daily contact with them. Our expectations are that we would get the approval this month,” said Bratušek and announced that they expect the first tender to be published on March 24. The application deadline is expected to be 30 days.

“I believe that the airlines will sign up and then we will have a little better air connectivity than before,” Minister Han said. 5.6 million euros are planned for subsidies per year, i.e. 16.8 million euros in total, and the program provides for subsidizing 50 percent of airport fees for carriers at three international airports in Slovenia – Brnik, Maribor and Portorož.

There will also be a program on the possibility of establishing a new airline

Han emphasized at the press conference that “it is a really important topic that has a very multiplying effect on how Slovenia will fare economically”. As he pointed out, without good air connections, the economy and tourism will not be in good condition.

According to him, the Ministry of Economy supported 11 airlines through two public tenders in the last two years, which made 2,600 flights to Slovenia and carried 121,000 passengers. “Of course, this is a temporary measure, we have to find another solution, and together with the Ministry of Infrastructure, we will prepare a government program on the possibility of establishing a new airline. Then the government will decide how to proceed. But even if the government decides on this path, it will be it took some time to establish this. That’s why it’s important to provide better air connectivity through the program as well,” Han said.

Also according to Minister Bratušek’s explanations, the government will discuss the possibilities of establishing a new airline, “when in-depth analyzes are done, which are now being prepared”.

GZS: The data show that past state subsidies were effective

The Chamber of Commerce of Slovenia (GZS) welcomes the new program of subsidizing air connections. As they announced, they support any solution that will ensure greater connectivity of Slovenia with the world, especially with destinations of strategic importance.

“In fact, the data shows that state subsidies to air carriers were effective in 2021 and 2022. That is why we at GZS have always made a determined effort to have the state extend the measure of subsidizing regular flights to Ljubljana airport until air traffic fully recovers.” pointed out the director of the Transport Association at GZS Robert North.

The association believes that the main reason for the slow recovery of air traffic in Slovenia is precisely the lack of air connections. “One of the reasons is, of course, the collapse of the national carrier Adria Airways, which went bankrupt just before the outbreak of the covid-19 epidemic. The former national carrier covered strategic destinations, which with the program presented today are returning to direct connections from Ljubljana airport,” they wrote down.

The chamber is not fundamentally opposed to the idea of ​​establishing a new national airline, but expects the authorities to prepare accurate calculations or a comparison between the costs of subsidies and the costs of establishing and operating a new airline.

The tender for a concessionaire at the Maribor airport has been extended for another two weeks

Minister Alenka Bratušek, while presenting the program for greater aviation connectivity in Slovenia, also said that the tender for the award of a concession for the provision of operating services at the Maribor airport, which expired today with an extended deadline, was extended by another two weeks, until March 25 . Regarding warnings that the state has a contract with DRI for the temporary management of the Maribor airport only until the end of the year, which could be a problem for the conclusion of possible air connections with the Styrian capital, she considered that the procedures could be harmonized, since the tender for the concessionaire extended until March 25, and the tender for air connections is scheduled for just one day earlier.

“Then we will find out if there is interest in the Maribor airport as well, and I am sure that we can find an answer to this dilemma as well,” added Alenka Bratušek, who stated as a reason for the additional extension of the tender period that potential bidders want some additional information before making a final decision. Since, according to her, they really want to find the best solution for the airport, they saw no problem in not extending the deadline. She did not say how many potential bidders there are, saying that this will be clear when the bids are opened.

As explained by the ministry when the tender was published, the subject of the concession, which should be concluded for ten years, is the provision of Maribor airport operation services in accordance with the law governing aviation, including the use and regular maintenance of the airport infrastructure. In the meantime, the state spatial plan is still being adopted, which could enable the future manager to upgrade the airport’s infrastructure, but the minister says that the airport already has practically all the possibilities of landing and taking off all comparable airplanes with Brnik, so this should not be a limitation for none of the carriers.

Also, the legal disputes between the state and the airport’s former lessee, Aerodrom Maribor, owned by Chinese investors at the time, which resigned from the lease after they failed to implement the announced ambitious plans, have not yet been concluded. “However, I was already surprised during my previous mandate as a minister that someone who cancels the lease contract himself, then sues the state because he is no longer a tenant of the airport,” she added.

Source: Rtvslo

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