Updated: 18:45 1 Oct. 2019
STA, 1 October 2019 - The Belgian air carrier Brussels Airlines, part of Lufthansa Group, announced it would restore its Brussels-Ljubljana route a day after Slovenian carrier Adria Airways filed for receivership. Travel agency Nomago also decided to organise several charter flights to mitigate the effects of Adria collapse on conference tourism.
Brussels Airlines, which had flown to Ljubljana a decade ago, announced six flights a week on its website today. Tickets should be available for sale as of Wednesday, while the first flights are scheduled for 4 November.
Brussels Airlines is to connect the Slovenian capital with Brussels every day a week except Saturday. Flights from Brussels are scheduled for 3:30pm and return flights for 5:55pm.
The Belgian air carrier is the first to introduce new flights to Ljubljana airport after Adria's collapse.
Adria's routes will also be partly covered by the Hungarian low-budget carrier WizzAir, which cancelled its Ljubljana-Brussels link for the 2019/2020 winter season but will restore it as of 31 March 2020.
Meanwhile, Nomago said today it was in contact with Ljubljana hotels, and all major tourism organisations and institutions hosting international events. It assured them it can expand its operations to provide for the transport of passengers through its InterCity bus service but also with additional charter flights.
According to Nomago executive director for tourism and mobility services Marjan Beltram, the network of the Nomago IntercIty services may be expanded within a month or two if necessary.
Nomago, which has the largest market share in plane ticket sales in Slovenia, has already arranged alternative connections from near-by airports for its passengers.
The receivership of Adria, which used to transport about half of all Ljubljana airport passengers, opens opportunities for other air carriers as well.
The most attractive appear to be the routes to Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Vienna. Two other Lufthansa subsidiaries, Austrian Airlines and Swiss International Airlines, are said to be interested in them as well.
Ljubljana airport operator Fraport Slovenija is in intensive talks with other air carriers as well and is hoping to replace the key connections soon. A comparable network of flights is to be set up in a year and a half, Fraport Slovenija said today.
Out of the 27 regular flights, 11 have been lost with the grounding of Adria's planes, of which five are crucial for Slovenia's connectivity with the world, said Janez Krašnja, the head of airline services.
According to Fraport Slovenija COO Zmago Skobir, these are connections with Brussels, Frankfurt, Vienna, Munich and Zurich. He expects them to be restored by the end of the year.
Asked whether founding a new national carrier would make sense in the current situation, Skobir said he could not comment. "I can only say that there is demand for the destinations that have been cancelled and that we have first signals that they will be replaced," he said.
Several companies already flying to Ljubljana are also increasing the number of flights to the Slovenian capital to make out for the fallout from Adria cancellations. Air France increased them from six to 13 a week, and will be using a larger aircraft to adjust to the number of passengers.
LOT Polish Airlines has raised the number of its flights from seven to eight a week and has recently been flying to Ljubljana with a larger plane, Boeing B737.
Air Serbia added Niš to the list of its routes in the summer, and adjusted to the number of passengers on the Ljubljana-Belgrade route with larger planes.
Montenegro Airlines will increase the number of its flights from four to five a week, while Russia's
Aeroflot has been using larger planes.
Turkish Airlines has made no changes yet but said it would secure larger aircraft if necessary.
A solution has however not been found yet for lights to Balkan cities. Fraport Slovenije is particularly working on setting up a connection with Skopje, which is an important business destination.
Fraport expects the airport to see 100,000-200,000 fewer passengers this year because of Adria's collapse, expecting the annual figure to stand between 1.5 and 1.7 million. But the airport still expects to end the year in the black.
Fraport Slovenija has more than EUR 4 million in claims to Adria, a part of which has been secured.
The Slovenian national postal operator Pošta Slovenije said today it had switched from Adria to other air lines and partly to Zagreb airport, while the mail for neighbouring countries and Germany was being transported by road.
Adria's collapse will be discussed by the coalition later this afternoon. Officials are expected to talk about potential steps the state can take in the aftermath of Adria's receivership.
One option is for the state to subsidise new routes and the other is to set up a new air carrier. Parties are divided as to what the best solution would be.
All our stories on Adria are here