Note: Updated 20:30, 20/09/19
STA, 20 September 2019 - The Civil Aviation Agency has grounded two Adria Airways Bombardier CRJ900 planes, after lessors have terminated lease contracts for the two planes due to payment default. Adria has already cancelled several flights scheduled for today and several were rescheduled.
According to Adria, the Civil Aviation Agency issued an oral ban for the two planes that Adria leased from Trident Aviation Leasing Service on Thursday afternoon.
A written decree is to be issued within the next five days.
Adria management met the agency's supervisors on Thursday evening to discuss the current situation. Adria asserted in a written statement that their flight operations with the remaining planes were safe, which the agency's head Rok Marolt confirmed for the STA today.
The agency is still deciding on Adria's operating licence. According to Adria, these are two separate procedures.
However, Marolt added that the procedure which is related to the financial situation of the company was "definitely related" to the licence procedure. "All this will definitely affect the final decision," he said.
Marolt said the agency was monitoring the situation at Adria by the hour. "If any deviations from flight security were detected, we will act immediately irrespective of the licence procedure."
So far, five morning flights have been cancelled, including the Skopje-Ljubljana, Ljubljana-Zürich, Munich-Ljubljana, Zürich-Ljubljana, and Vienna-Ljubljana flights.
According to Adria's web site, the flights scheduled for this afternoon will be carried out but most have been delayed by an hour and a half.
Delays were already reported on Thursday. Passengers going to Paris, Copenhagen and Amsterdam were stuck at the airport. Flights to Brussels, Tirana and Prague were also cancelled.
Adria has not commented on the matter yet. CEO Holger Kowarsch denied media reports that lessors have terminated lease contracts for the two planes in a comment for the STA last night, saying that talks with lessors were still under way.
News portal 24ur reported today that Adria employees had staged a spontaneous protest at noon. Pilots and cabin crew reportedly gathered to protest about the uncertainty and lack of information about the state of the company and their careers.
Trident Aviation Leasing Service is part of the Falko group, which owns the Irish low-budget carrier CityJet and is one of the biggest creditors of Adria, according to Siol.net.
Falko was also mentioned as a possible saviour of Slovenia's former flag carrier which has been in German ownership since 2016.
Adria's potential receivership would cause problems to the state administration, given the upcoming Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021. Kowarsch reportedly discussed this with Prime Minister Marjan Šarec in the spring.
The Infrastructure Ministry said today that it did not have means at its disposal to assist Adria; however it was sorry to hear about the airline's unfortunate situation.
"Our priority at the moment is that maximum safety of Adria's flight operations is ensured," reads the ministry's press release.
The state, which sold Adria in 2016, will be obliged to provide Slovenia's air connectivity with the world in case Adria's operating license is revoked.
The ministry has thus already prepared a proposal which would enable co-funding of certain flight routes in line with relevant regulations.
If Adria goes bankrupt and no other airlines step up to provide necessary services, then the state would have to set up a public airline enterprise - a long and complicated procedure which would have to be approved by the EU.
Meanwhile, Adria said today that the company was facing serious financial issues and was looking for solutions to tackle them.
Adria's fleet includes 16 planes at the moment, but the carrier is leasing many of them to other airlines together with flight crews.
All our stories on the troubled airline can be found here