STA, 22 July 2019 - The Chinese owners of airport operator Aerodrom Maribor have put up signs to limit access to Maribor airport, which is currently managed by DRI, a state-owned company, media reported on Monday.
This is the latest twist in the story of Maribor Airport, whose management was handed over to DRI, the state-owned consulting and engineering company specialised in infrastructure projects, in early June.
The government decided for the move after the Chinese-backed Aerodrom Maribor announced in January it was invoking a six-month notice and terminating the 15-year lease agreement it signed in 2017 due to delays in a planned expansion of the airport's runway.
DRI got the operating licence last week, so the airport reopened last Friday after being closed for a day.
But today, signs saying Private Property, No Trespassing, No Parking appeared at the entrance to the parking area.
The Infrastructure Ministry told the STA that the easement in the area of Maribor airport, owned by Aerodrom Maribor, was settled in the land register and that any disputes over the matter would be settled in court.
The ministry assessed that "the Chinese owners who unilaterally pulled out of the lease agreement for no apparent reason are doing this to hinder the operations of Maribor airport and are implementing their interests at Slovenia's expense".
DRI meanwhile told the STA today the signs did not disrupt the airport's operations.
DRI is to manage the airport until the end of 2020 or until the Infrastructure Ministry finds a long-term solution.
The ministry denied in a press release last week claims that Aerodrom Maribor terminated the lease agreement due to delays in the planned expansion of the airport's runway.
It added no deadlines or any other conditions for the state had been set in the 2017 agreement.
The project entails changes to the spatial plan for the area, which is a lengthy procedure and can take several years, it noted.
The Chinese-backed firm SHS Aviation bought Aerodrom Maribor at the beginning of 2017 from Delavska Hranilnica savings bank, signing a 15-year lease agreement with the state.
It made huge announcements when it took over, but few of its plans came to fruition and the airport has been languishing, serving only a handful of charter flights and subsisting mostly on revenue from pilot training.