STA, 23 January 2020 - Adria Airways operating licences were auctioned off on Thursday to Air Adriatic, a newly established company owned by Slovenian produce importer Izet Rastoder, at the asking price of EUR 45,000.
"The auction was successful, the licences were sold at the asking price. There were three bidders. The asking price was accepted and there was no bidding," Adria receiver Janez Pustatičnik told the press.
Apart from Air Adriatic, the registration deposit was paid by Croatian company Komforia, and Dedal Aero, owned by former Adria pilot Dejan Slodej.
The buyer has three days to sign the contract and then pay the agreed sum within a month in order to acquire the rights that come with the licences.
However, in order to be able to use the licences the buyer will have to take certain steps to meet the criteria Adria met before its licence was revoked and the receivership launched, Pustatičnik explained.
Adria has some other assets, including its registered brand and some buildings, but the operating licences were considered some of the most valuable assets.
"This had to be sold as soon as possible, so the buyer can take all the necessary steps to be able to use the licences. The Civil Aviation Agency has extended this deadline until the end of September."
The buyer will be able to use all the benefits of Adria's membership in various organisations, and rent the remaining infrastructure of the former flag carrier until it is sold. This includes the brand name, building and equipment.
"The buyer cannot land anywhere for the time being because it does not fly. First, it must take all the necessary steps. The deadline for reporting to Germany whether the summer season will be carried out is 31 January."
After Pustatičnik examines the 2,800 claims reported, Adria's brand name will be put up for sale as well.
Following Adria's receivership in October, several potential buyers expressed interest in the group's licences, including its air operator's certificate (AOC), as well as its flight school.
Only a week ago, it was reported that investors linked to the Russian state-owned aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi had also confirmed their interest, but they did not show up for the auction.
Slovenia's former flag carrier Adria Airways, which was sold to the German financial fund 4K in 2016, went into receivership last autumn after years of financial difficulties.
After its collapse, the government considered founding a new carrier to preserve Slovenia's connectivity with the world but this option was ultimately dismissed as economically unfeasible.
However, the government is reportedly still looking for a way to have Slovenia better connected with four major European hubs - Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Brussels - through regional air carriers.
A solution is being draw up by the Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC) and is expected to be presented at the beginning of this year.
Pustatičnik refused to speculate on why the state did not bid for the licences today, noting only that BAMC officials had been collecting information about Adria in October and November.
The representative of Air Adriatic would not comment on the auction, while Adria's former pilot Slodej, who also took part in the auction, said Slovenia could have a profitable airline. "I hope the buyers know enough about the business that a success story will now unfold," he said.
He thinks the market is big enough but that the airline should have a different business model than Adria had.