Ljubljana related

30 Sep 2019, 11:54 AM

STA, 30 September 2019 - The government will examine today reports on troubled flag carrier Adria Airways compiled by several state institutions and discuss potential steps to keep Slovenia connected with relevant destinations via Ljubljana airport. Adria's management also expects the owner, the German fund K4 Invest, to say whether it will pursue financial restructuring.

With several of its planes grounded and the bulk of flights cancelled, the Economy Ministry called on the relevant state institutions last week to examine Adria's financial situation.

According to unofficial media reports, the probe showed Adria having around EUR 90 million in debt and needing EUR 30 million to continue with operations, substantially more than the carrier's representatives allegedly claimed in recent days.

It is still not clear how the government will proceed, but the Infrastructure Ministry has already prepared changes to the aviation act to keep Slovenia connected to the world in case of Adria's bankruptcy. There has also been speculation the government could let Adria go into receivership and then found a new company.

PM Marjan Šared said on Sunday that Šarec government was getting ready for the next period, be it through a new company or by securing links needed by Slovenia via other carriers. He repeated he did not trust Adria's leadership, saying it obviously perceives the state as a dairy cow "that needs to be milked for every cent that can be squeezed out and then taken nobody knows where".

Adria's management meanwhile expects K4 Invest, which bough the carrier from the state in 2016, to say today whether it plans to pursue financial restructuring. A confirmed restructuring plan is a condition for Adria to preserve its license and the deadline for it set by the Civil Aviation Agency is Wednesday.

Should K4 fail to present a plan, this would very likely mean receivership and thereby an automatic license loss for the carrier.

Adria was already hit this weekend by a fine for the sale of tickets for flights scheduled for last Thursday and Friday, which the management must have known will not be carried out. The Market Inspectorate said the air carrier had been misleading customers.

Adria, which was only flying to Frankfurt in recent days, announced it would execute 11 flights today: to Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels, Zurich and Vienna. Return flights should be carried out for all these destinations as well, while Adria also plans to fly from Ljubljana to Tirana.

All our stories on Adria are here

28 Sep 2019, 09:39 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 27 September

Mladina: If Germany can rescue its companies, why can't Slovenia?

STA, 27 September 2019 – Mladina, the left-wing weekly, criticises Slovenian governments for failing to protect the interests of Slovenian companies, including Adria Airways, saying they usually give EU rules as an excuse not to act, whereas engines of capitalism such as Germany always help their companies. What is more, they are indirectly buying Slovenian companies.

Due to the government's inactivity, nearly 600 Adria staff will lose their jobs and at least another 600 jobs will be lost indirectly, while the budget will suffer a loss of EUR 20 million, the weekly says in its editorial on Friday.

When Economy Minister Zdarvko Počivalšek met on Wednesday a group of Adria workers who are seeking a solution, he said the state was not indifferent to its troubles, and mentioned Adria's irresponsible owner, which had put at stake the company's operating licence.

But it is surprising he became aware of Adria's troubles only now when the rest of Slovenians realised how deeply in trouble it was much earlier, and that he forgot to mention he was the economy minister in the Miro Cerar government, which sold Adria to Germany's 4K Invest in 2016.

At the time, the government argued the sale would enable Adria to "develop, expand and provide for Slovenia's new links to the world", and those who warned this would not be the case because Adria was sold to a speculative venture capital fund were said to be ignorant of the very basics of capitalism.

When Počivalšek visited Adria, Germany announced it would help the airline Condor get a loan to prevent its bankruptcy. Two days before the German rescue effort, former Adria director Peter Grašek proposed a similar solution for Adria to the Slovenian government.

But the government is actually not seeking a solution, it is waiting for the situation to calm down so that it may start pointing fingers and complain about its hands being tied by EU rules. Yet, the same rules do not prevent Croatia or Estonia to help their airlines, or Germany to immediately rescue an airline or car factory when in trouble.

Mladina says that Slovenia's national airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana was not sold just to any company in 2014, it was sold to Germany's Fraport, which is indirectly in majority ownership of Germany.

"Isn't it strange that we are being constantly told it is vital to sell companies and banks for the state to be successful and efficient, while at the same time it always turns out that the countries which are considered the culmination of capitalist efficiency and success, are buying our companies and banks?"

What is more, they purchase our companies in collaboration with their private companies, Mladina says, noting Fraport is partly owned by Lufthansa, the airline which will most certainly take over Adria's business.

Mladina says it is clear Počivalšek knew Adria was sold to speculative funds which would drain it. And as prime minister, Alenka Bratušek also knew airport operator Aerodrom was actually bought by the German state.

"She also knew that as soon as the national airport is sold, there will be an end to the complementarity between the airport and Adria, which will be fateful for Adria in five years' time," editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says in They Knew.

Reporter: Bratušek attempting power grab in corrupt energy sector

STA, 23 September 2019 - The right-wing weekly Reporter says in Monday's commentary that a recent failed attempt by Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek to be given the final word in the appointment of executives at two state-owned energy companies had not been about wanting to end rampant corruption but merely about trying to seize control over it.

While managing to subjugate SODO, the state-owned electricity distribution system operator, to the government in this way, Bratušek failed to get same statue change proposals passed by the government last week for ELES, the transmission system operator, and for power market operator Borzen.

While Reporter's editor-in-chief Silverster Šurla says that Bratušek, whose proposal had been rejected by Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) president and Defence Minister Karel Erjavec while the remaining ministers abstained, should in fact be believed when she speaks of rampant corruption in the sector.

However, in any normal state accusations of such gravity as the ones issued by her would immediately be examined by authorities specialised in the prosecution of organised crime.

"The minister should report these things to the police immediately and share everything she knowns, including with all the names," Šurla says.

He argues Bratušek has not done that because she is part of one wing of the energy lobby herself. The two wings are engaged in a struggle for the executive posts and thereby for control over the bountiful money flow in state-owned energy companies.

Šurla says under The Fox and the Sour Grapes that Bratušek "is a cunning political fox, who will stop at nothing to reach her goals and is possibly even ready to bring down the government".

All our posts in this series are here

27 Sep 2019, 16:45 PM

STA, 27 September 2019 - The flight cancellations by Slovenia's troubled airline Adria Airways have increased demand for and accordingly the supply by rival carriers already operating the Ljubljana route. The first changes are already being made to the winter schedules, while new carriers are reportedly also expressing interest to start flying to Ljubljana.

The airport's operator Fraport Slovenija told the STA on Friday that current data showed Air France increased the number of flights per week from six to 13 and is also using larger capacity aircraft if needed.

LOT Polish Airlines added one flight to its seven per week and is also flying more frequently with the larger Boeing B737.

Air Serbia is also frequently resorting to the Airbus A319 solution in place of the smaller ATR planes, Montenegro Airlines has increased the number of flights from four to five, and Russia's Aeroflotis is also increasing capacity by using Airbus A319 planes instead of the Sukhois.

Turkish Airlines is preserving its number of flights so far, but Fraport said it would secure larger planes if needed.

The airport operator said Adria's cancellations had also boosted interest in the airport on the part of new carriers, but no details could yet be provided.

Also responding are airports in neighbouring countries, with Austria's Klagenfurt airport for instance posting an ad in the Slovenian newspaper Delo.

The Graz airport in Austria could also benefit, as Lufthansa has announced it would revive its Graz-Frankfurt route at the end of October.

Also noted have been ads by foreign carriers which are inviting Slovenian pilots among their ranks.

Meanwhile, Adria announced today it would execute but two evening flights to Frankfurt this weekend.

For Monday, the plan is to execute 11 flights: to Frankfurt, München, Brussels, Zürich and Vienna. Return flights will be carried out for all these destinations as well, while Adria also plans to fly from Ljubljana to Tirana, the company said today.

Adria's owner, the German turnaround fund 4K, is still waiting for the government to decide whether to grant it the EUR 4 million in aid which 4K claims can prevent receivership. According to the newspaper Finance, a decision could already come today.

It is unlikely that aid in this form will occur. This has also been stressed by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, while Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said Adria would not get a single euro from the state as long as it is owned by 4K.

All out stories about Adria are here

26 Sep 2019, 22:18 PM

STA, 26 September 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has expressed regret about the developments at Adria Airways, sympathising with the passengers and the employees' families, but also noted that the air carrier is no longer state-owned and that the outlook for its rescue is not good.

Šarec instructed the relevant ministers on Thursday to weigh all the possibilities of potential aid to the German-owned airline, which is facing the treat of losing its operational licence due to a lack of liquidity.

"However, people need to be told clearly that the options are not good. I wouldn't like to paint an unrealistic picture so that the public opinion would be more favourable," Šarec said in New York on Thursday.

He noted that Adria Airways was sold by the state to the German turnaround fund 4K Invest in 2016 because the company was not doing well and needed a strategic owner.

"The owner is bad. It turned out Adria didn't come into good hands, and this fund which owns Adria then failed to present a financial plan requested by the ministry. In short, they behave completely frivolously."

He noted that a potential salvage of the company should be within the scope of the law. "To try a new variant, but I must say that like the passengers I don't trust Adria any more. I'm sorry to say this. I won't go into reasons from the past, but you know how it is. Those who cannot handle money, you can give them two millions today and they won't have them tomorrow."

The government cannot grant a loan guarantee to Adria Airways because it does not own it, Šarec said, adding that like in the case of retailer Mercator and some other companies "everything would be different today is a better owner was found for them when they were sold.

"As it is, throwing money while we don't know where the money will go and what comes of it, it is a bit risky."

Asked whether the government would help the carrier in case of a change in ownership, Šarec said that it would be a different story with a serious owner. Then we wouldn't have come into the present situation."

BAMC examines Adria’s finances

STA, 26 September 2019 - The Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) has been looking into the financial situation in Adria Airways since Thursday morning to ascertain how long the money demanded by the air carrier's German owner would last, the business daily Finance has reported. The paper has also released the company's report for 2018,

The aim of BAMC's scrutiny, which comes under instructions from the government, is to establish how long the EUR 4 million that the company's German owner 4K Invest, demanded from the state as the condition not to file for receivership would last.

BAMC told Finance that it would not provide the money if it turned out the sum was not sufficient to rescue the company. BAMC also demanded of the Adria owner to submit proof of debt write-offs agreed with creditors.

Estimates by Finance's sources are that Adria would need about EUR 50 million merely to avoid a bankruptcy, and as much for sustainable operations.

Finance also cites estimates by experts that creating a new airline, which is another potential scenario offered by politicians, would cost some EUR 70 million.

Citing unofficial sources, the commercial broadcaster POP TV reported that BAMC suggested the government invest between EUR 15 million and 20 million in Adria on condition the company pay out on Friday the reminder of August pay to employees and settle its International Air Transport Association membership fee.

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek told the STA today that the situation at Adria Airways was being examined by several institutions so that the government will take a decision on Friday or Saturday how to rescue the company to preserve Slovenia's air links with the rest of the world.

"We don't want to take decisions by heart, we don't want populist solutions, the figures will tell us what we need to do," he said.

It is in the government's interest to have a carrier that would link Slovenia well internationally. "If we come in a situation when we don't have such a carrier, the market will do its job, but I don't think we'll ever be linked with the world again as we are now," said the minister.

Adria Airways's audited 2018 report, released by Finance, puts its net loss for last year at EUR 18.95 million, up from EUR 5.44 million the year before, as revenue rose by 12.5% to EUR 179.08 million.

According to the report, Adria had EUR 2.63 million in capital in 2017, but last year its capital turned EUR 14.19 million negative.

The company's long-term debt amounted to EUR 21.5 million and short-term liabilities to EUR 54.6 million.

The auditor issued a qualified opinion on the report, for one thing because it established that Adria did not in fact lose control of its brand in December 2016, so the accounting treatment of the company from that year on did not lead to a fair value of events.

According to the auditor's calculations, unconsolidated receivables as of the end of 2018 should be reduced by EUR 5.6 million, and by EUR 5.4 million at the end of 2017, while the liabilities as of the end of 2018 should be reduced by EUR 0.8 million and the accumulated loss increased by EUR 4.8 million.

All our stories on Adria are here

26 Sep 2019, 16:30 PM

STA, 26 September 2019 - The Slovenian tourism sector is scrambling to find alternatives after Adria Airways suspended operations, leading to hundreds of immediate cancellations and raising the prospect of significant long-term damage.

A meeting was held in Ljubljana Wednesday featuring hoteliers, shuttle operators, major convention venues, the Slovenian Tourist Board and the Economy Ministry.

"The goal was to find solutions in the given situation, with drastically reduced air access putting guest arrivals at risk and jeopardising even finalised business events," said Visit Ljubljana, the capital's tourism office.

Media reports suggest there have been dozens of cancellations daily in Ljubljana hotels since Adria grounded its flights on Tuesday.

Foreign guests account for over 95% of all hotel nights in Ljubljana, with roughly two-thirds coming to the city by air, according to Visit Ljubljana figures.

While many do come through airports in neighbouring countries, Ljubljana is the main entry point and Adria accounted for about half of all passengers there.

Ljubljana is also a major convention tourism destination and the lack of direct air links could hurt the sector. "In the first half of 2020 alone this could have a negative impact on three major international conventions with over a thousand participants each," Visit Ljubljana said.

Adria's woes could prove to be a boon for nearby airports in neighbouring countries, which expect passenger numbers to rise.

Zagreb Airport told the STA it expected the number of business guests to increase, while Trieste Airport said it had seen an uptick in the number of guests flying to Munich and Frankfurt.

Munich and Frankfurt were two of the most lucrative destinations for Adria.

Adria's grounding left roughly 3,700 passengers stranded on Tuesday and Wednesday, when 158 flights were cancelled.

Today and tomorrow almost 200 flights have been cancelled, affecting about 10,000 passengers.

All out stories in Adria are here

25 Sep 2019, 18:07 PM

STA, 25 September 2019 - Slovenian carrier Adria Airways has extended its suspension of operations at least until Friday. All flights except one daily flight to and from Frankfurt will remain grounded.

"Adria Airways continues active talks with potential new owners and principal creditors and it remains committed to achieving a positive outcome for all," reads a press release circulated on Wednesday.

The continuation of suspension adds to the woes of the company, which is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy after months of delays, cancellations and questionable management decisions.

On Monday evening it abruptly announced it was grounding all of its flights for two days, which was followed by news that creditors are stepping up to seize aircraft it is currently leasing.

Adria given a week to present restructuring plan

STA, 25 September 2019 - The Civil Aviation Agency (CAA) has given the struggling Slovenian airline Adria Airways a week to submit a confirmed financial restructuring plan or otherwise its operational licence will be revoked, CAA director Rok Marolt told the press after meeting Adria management on Wednesday.

The restructuring plan must be supported among other things with signed lease contracts for aircraft and an air operator's certificate (AOC), according to him.

The ultimatum comes after the German-owned airline suspended almost all of its operations yesterday due to financial issues, with all companies leasing the aircraft to the company reportedly threatening with withdrawals.

The decision was made at an oral hearing at the agency's seat involving representatives of Adria Airways, including officers responsible for safety and the financial director.

If Adria fails to provide the required documentation in a week, it will no longer be permitted to operate commercial flights, and if it does, the CAA will make a quick decision about whether the proof is solid enough for the licence to be preserved.

Marolt told the press conference in Ljubljana that the agency would no longer approve recapitalisations of Adria with "various merger manoeuvres, transfers of brands and similar. Even guarantees from a potential strategic partner would need to be solid."

Asked how much fresh capital Adria would need, he said that it was a "high amount of money, tens of millions of euro", adding that he would not comment on the 2018 annual report as it had not been published yet.

The management of Adria Airways has meanwhile given the owner, the German turnaround fund 4K Invest, until Monday to decide whether it will embark on financial restructuring of the company which unofficially owes up to EUR 60 million in debt.

If they decide for financial restructuring, they will have 30 days to implement it, and in the opposite case the company is likely to end up in receivership, which means automatic revocation of operational licence.

In order to regain licence, Adria would need to submit proof that it has enough funds to secure safe flight operations in the next 12 months.

The carrier is insolvent under two criteria and the only remaining criteria it meets is that it has paid out a majority of outstanding wages to employees.

A quarter of wages for August has not been paid and proof that this was done in the meantime is what the agency will expect to be on its table in a week.

The CAA also ordered Adria today to formally ground two Bombardier CRJ 900 and three Airbus A319 aircraft based on requests from the companies which have leased them to the airline.

The company's AOC currently features ten aircraft - six Bombardier CRJ 900s and four Saab 2000s, but Marolt revealed that the agency had already received requests from owners for deletion of six aircraft from the certificate.

As for safety, he said that the aircraft operated by Adria Airways were safe and added that the company's management had assured him that there were enough funds to provide safety of flights scheduled to be carried out in the coming days.

"If there were any doubt about safety, Adria would not be flying even a minute," Marolt said, adding that immediate measures would be taken if any signs of safety risks were detected by the deadline for the restructuring plan.

All our stories on Adria are here

25 Sep 2019, 09:56 AM

STA, 24 September 2019 - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek has reacted to the deepening crisis at Adria Airways by saying that the only thing that could save the air carrier was a well thought-out restructuring plan, agreed with the creditors, but added that under the given owner, the state would not invest a single euro in the company.

The minister would not specify how the restructuring of the company, which has been in the ownership of the German fund 4K Invest since 2016, could be conducted.

"Anything is possible, if you want it," he said in Ljubljana on Tuesday. "Things are not simple, and the ownership is not important there. It's absolutely necessary to examine the routes, act fast, conduct financial restructuring, reach a deal with the creditors and tap on the potential of the staff so the company can start from scratch."

Another possibility is letting the company go bankrupt, which in the short run would damage Slovenian business, not only tourism. In the mid- and long run other airlines would likely take over Adria routes. In this way, the potential and expertise of the well-qualified staff would be lost, said the minister.

The air carrier's management had already sought the ministry's help in spring. Počivalšek said that the government could have helped Adria Airways within the scope of the law in a way that would not constitute state aid.

"We could have helped them with promotion, but we demanded a clear business plan. Without knowing what is going to happen to them today, tomorrow or the day after, the state cannot give a single euro," he said, adding that the company failed to present the plan required in four months.

When acquiring the formerly state-owned company in 2016, the new owner pledged to restructure and preserve the flag carrier and to continue to develop the company in the future, which would create long-term positive effects on the state budget, economy and all stakeholders in society.

"It's more than obvious that this has not been the case, so we regret the attempts now to pin the sole blame for the company's troubles on the state," the Economy Ministry said.

"It's unacceptable that on the one hand the owner sets short deadlines for the state's response, while on the other it hasn't put forward in four months a business plan as a basis for any step the state could take."

Back in 2011 Adria Airways received a EUR 70 million injection from the state and creditor banks. The European Commission found the recapitalisation was in compliance with the EU's state aid rules for companies in troubles.

The company cannot benefit from new state aid within ten years after the last bailout. "When Adria Airways's business is healthy, the company will be able to ask for other forms of help because it cannot get them until then," said Počivalšek.

Due to a lack of liquidity Adria Airways today suspended most of its operations, except for its link to Lufthansa's hub in Frankfurt. Media have reported that Adria Airways' "ultimatum" to the government demanding up to EUR 4 million in bridging loan or guarantees expired last night.

All our stories about Adria Airways are here

24 Sep 2019, 20:46 PM

STA, 24 September 2019 - Strapped for cash, Slovenian carrier Adria Airways suspended virtually all its flights for Tuesday and Wednesday, causing frustration among passengers and prompting calls for help from the government. The latter is adamant not to give money to the company under the existing owner, German turnaround fund K4 Invest.

"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, prompting speculation about a looming bankruptcy.

Although the carrier has been beset by delays and cancellations for months, media reports suggested the decision to suspend operations from Adria's bases in Ljubljana, Prishtina and Tirana followed the expiry of Adria officials' ultimatum to the government to provide a EUR 4 million loan guarantee.

The decision affected all routes linking Slovenia's capital with Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Manchester, Munich, Paris, Podgorica, Praga, Prishtina, Sarajevo, Skopje, Sofia, Tirana, Vienna and Zurich. However, Adria did say it would fly out to Frankfurt on Tuesday and back on Wednesday.

Flight cancellations caused a lot of frustration for passengers at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, especially among foreign visitors, many of whom did not learn about their flights being cancelled until after they had arrived at the airport.

The cancellations prompted the Polish government to dispatch its own jet to get the Polish volleyball team from the Netherlands, where they beat Germany in the quarter-finals of the Eurovolley, to Ljubljana to play Slovenia in the semis on Thursday.

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.

It is not clear how many passengers have been affected because Adria has kept communications with the media to a minimum. But the figure is likely substantial, as the suspension also affected airlines for which Adria operated flights on a contractual basis.

More details are expected tomorrow as the Civil Aviation Agency conducts a hearing in a procedure concerning the airline's operating licence. The agency's director Rok Marolt said they were closely monitoring the situation at the carrier.

Adria's woes are already affecting hoteliers, who are due to meet Ljubljana tourism officials and companies providing shuttle bus links between Ljubljana and other airports tomorrow in a bid to find solutions.

Concern over flight cancellations has also been expressed by businesses, with fears that increasing numbers of passengers will be travelling abroad from foreign airports. They urged the government to find alternative solutions.

"Tourism has already suffered major economic damage due to a low volume of lines operated by the domestic flag carrier, and in the future our wings will actually be clipped," the Slovenian Tourism Board said, urging the government to save Adria.

An appeal for a government bailout also came from Adria pilots, whose union said that the state was responsible for the situation because it sold the company "to incompetent owners" so they "expect the state will assist in the resolution of the situation".

Having struggled for years, Adria was sold to 4K Invest for a mere EUR 100,000 in 2016. It received several 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.

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek ruled out investing any money into the company under the current owner, which he blamed for the situation, saying that the only thing that could save Adria was a well thought-out restructuring plan, agreed with the creditors.

"It's absolutely necessary to examine the routes, act fast, conduct financial restructuring, reach a deal with the creditors and tap on the potential of the staff so the company can start from scratch," the minister said, noting that Adria could not get state aid again.

A solution whereby the state would help Slovenia preserve its carrier, Adria's expertise of 60 years, and its staff, while not helping its current owner also appears to be favoured by political parties, with the Left proposing the company be taken over by employees.

Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Ministry has drawn up a bill that would allow the government to subsidise selected air links from Ljubljana, including to Brussels. The bill could be adopted as early as this week, and, providing clearance from the EU Commission, would take effect if Adria was grounded for good.

The carrier itself said it was busy looking for solutions together with a potential investor, but previous attempts to find a strategic partner failed or turned out to be merely preliminary talks with few if any prospects of succeeding.

The decision to temporarily suspend operations came less than a week after two of Adria's leased aircraft were repossessed by their owner over unpaid debt. Media reports suggest Adria owes up to EUR 60 million in debt.

24 Sep 2019, 14:11 PM

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

24 Sep 2019, 08:51 AM

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.

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