Updated 10:50, 24 September
STA, 24 September 2019 - Slovenian carrier Adria Airways has suspended all operations from its three bases in Ljubljana, Prishtina and Tirana for Tuesday and Wednesday due to a shortage of cash.
"The decision to suspend aircraft operations is the consequence of the current lack of access to fresh money that the carrier needs to continue operations," the company said in a press release late on Monday.
The carrier said it was busy looking for solutions together with a potential investor. "The goal of all those involved is that Adria Airways takes off again and that the suspension is merely temporary."
The decision affects all routes linking Ljubljana with Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Manchester, Munich, Paris, Podgorica, Praga, Prishtina, Sarajevo, Skopje, Sofija, Tirana, Vienna and Zurich.
The flight to Frankfurt, a major hub and one of Adria's most important destinations, will take place. Adria will fly out today and return on Wednesday.
Ljubljana airport operator Fraport Slovenija said it was helping passengers that had arrived at the airport for the morning flights - the suspension was announced just before midnight - and had arranged transport from the airport for them.
Thousands of passengers on scheduled and charter flights are likely to be affected, but the exact figure is not clear since Adria has kept communications with the media to a minimum.
Many passengers appear to have opted for ground transportation and business daily Finance reports that shuttle and bus operators have seen their bookings, in particular to nearby airports, surge.
The suspension also affects airlines for which Adria operated flights on a contractual basis. Austrian Airlines thus announced this morning that it had to cancel three flights due to the suspension.
The decision to temporarily suspend operations comes less than a week after two of its leased aircraft were repossessed by their owner over unpaid debt, which capped months of cancellations and delays for the cash-strapped carrier.
As late as yesterday the Adria management insisted it was busy trying to stabilise operations and was conducting intensive talks with a possible strategic partner.
Previous attempts to find a strategic partner have failed or have turned out to be merely preliminary talks with few if any prospects of succeeding.
The carrier used to be in state ownership but was privatised in 2016 and sold to 4K Invest, a German turnaround fund.
Since then it has sold all of its aircraft and leased them back, but media reports suggest its debt to suppliers have been mounting; some reports put it as high as EUR 60 million.
Since Adria accounts for about half of Ljubljana airport's passengers despite its woes, it is likely plans will soon be set in motion to help the airport.
The state cannot salvage the carrier because it had already injected millions in state aid into Adria less than ten years ago, but it appears to be ready to subsidise key routes. Fraport has also said it has a contingency plan but has not revealed any details yet.
The carrier is also subject to an operating licence review by the Civil Aviation Agency. The agency was due to reach a decision by the end of October and it remains unclear how the suspension will affect its procedures. A press briefing is scheduled for Wednesday.