Adria Airways: Passengers Stuck at Airport, Pilots Hope for State Aid

By , 24 Sep 2019, 14:11 PM Business
Adria Airways: Passengers Stuck at Airport, Pilots Hope for State Aid Wikimedia - TravellingOtter CC-by-SA-0

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STA, 24 September 2019 - Flight cancellations by carrier Adria Airways have caused a lot of frustration for passengers at the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport on Tuesday. Long lines have formed in front of Adria's information desks, as many passengers learnt about the cancellations only after they arrived at the airport.

Adria Airways has cancelled all of its flights scheduled for today and tomorrow, with the exception of flights to Frankfurt. The airline seems to be at a dead end, having ran out of money. The fate of what used to be Slovenia's flag carrier will expectedly be known in the coming days.

Meanwhile, at Slovenia's biggest airport passengers are frustrated about being stranded and receiving little help from the airline.

Two Americans who are supposed to fly to Texas and California via Munich later today were angered by the fact that they had not been informed about their flight being cancelled before arriving at the airport this morning.

"We've received no phone message, no email, no message whatsoever," one of them told the STA, adding that they booked their flights without any problems a week ago.

Adria personnel advised them to turn to the agency that booked their flights, but the agency sent them back to Adria. "They can't offer us a hotel, or transportation, they can't offer anything. At the same time, they can't put us on another flight because all flights are full."

They do not know what to do. They intend to contact Lufthansa once again. They flew to Europe with Lufthansa and the carrier also booked their flights with Adria. "I don't know where we'll end up. We're trying to stay calm, but we are far from happy."

A Massachusetts couple, who were supposed to return home today via Frankfurt, said they had not received any help. "They've given us information about EU rules that say carriers need to help passengers in case of flight cancellations or delays, but they don't follow the rules."

They were instructed by Adria to send them receipts proving additional cost incurred and do not know yet what they will do. They intend to go back to Ljubljana and probably stay another couple of days.

A man from Rijeka, Croatia, who has booked a flight to Tirana was very critical about being stuck at Brnik airport. "This is a disaster." He was given the passenger rights leaflet but was not offered a different flight to Tirana. But even that would not have helped him. "I need to be in Tirana today. But I won't be."

A couple from Australia, who visited family in Velenje and was supposed to return today through Frankfurt, arrived at the airport hours early after hearing about Adria's troubles on the news. Adria helped them get a different flight from Zagreb.

They said that their family had visited Slovenia at least 40 times in over six decades and had never faced anything like this.

Another passenger, who booked a seat to Stockholm, said Adria got her on a different flight, but ten hours later than scheduled.

Adria pilots hoping for state bailout

STA, 24 September 2019 - The pilots of Adria Airways have asked the state for a bailout after the carrier temporarily suspended operations due to lack of cash, making bankruptcy an imminent prospect.

"We're aware of the unenviable position, but we are confident the situation can be resolved in agreement with the state," Luka Radovic, the head of the Trade Union of Commercial Pilots, said in a press release on Tuesday.

Everyone stands to lose, not only Adria staff but also the economy in general, said the head of the union, which just recently signed a new collective bargaining agreement with Adria.

"By selling [the carrier] to incompetent owners, the state has brought us to this situation ... we expect the state will assist in the resolution of the situation," according to the union.

The union thus called on the government to extend a loan guarantee, but in doing that it should also appoint a temporary management and squeeze out the current owners.

"Adria has operated successfully before and we believe that a competent management can return it to the right path, making the search for a new strategic owner much easier," he said.

The appeal comes after Adria grounded almost all planes and temporarily suspended operations, a move widely interpreted as the end of the troubled carrier.

The company has been beset by delays and cancellations for months and has long been bleeding passengers and has apparently unsuccessfully attempted to sell itself to several potential strategic owners.

Media reports suggest Adria representatives have even asked the state and state-owned funds for money outright, going as far as giving the government an ultimatum until yesterday evening to provide a EUR 4 million loan guarantee or risk the airline collapsing.

But the government has made it clear on several occasions it cannot help Adria, which had received ample state aid less than ten years ago, without running afoul of EU competition rules.

Adria was sold to 4K Invest, a German turnaround fund, for a mere EUR 100,000 in 2016, having before that struggled for years.

It received several rounds of state-sponsored capital injections between 2007 and 2011, including a EUR 50 million cash infusion in 2011 and a EUR 38.4 million debt-to-equity conversion the same year.

All our stories on Adria Airways are here

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