Slovenia has recently passed a bill where up to 5.6 million euros will be allocated to the launching of new routes to Ljubljana. This has come as a measure to improve the connectivity of the capital city, but also to the country as a whole with the rest of Europe.
The Reason Behind The Subsidies
The amount of money is going to cover up to 50% of the costs required at Ljubljana Airport. The state is going to provide a list of destinations for airlines that want to apply. The subsidies will apply only for direct flights and also for airlines that increase frequencies on existing flights. The bill needs to be approved by the European Commission before the subsidy scheme can start.
Alenka Bratušek, incoming Minister of Infrastructure, declared: “We have already forwarded the bill to them. We are acting fast because we want to finalise the process before the summer season, which already begins at the end of March.” Slovenia had to forward the bill to the European Commission because it is a policy regarding state aid.
This measure has come as a response to the slowing down of air traffic in Slovenia. Currently, Ljubljana Airport is the most active in Slovenia; however, it is not very well connected to destinations across Europe. People that want to come to Slovenia have other choices, such as Venice in Italy, Zagreb in Croatia and Graz in Austria. Besides these, Slovenia has plans for the revival of Maribor Airport, which has become one of the least-used airports in the former Yugoslavian countries. Another small airport is located in Portorož, on the Slovenian littoral, but it is also barely used.
Another reason why Slovenia decided to implement this measure is the bankruptcy of its flag carrier, Adria Airways. It ceased operations in 2019 after a long period of time filled with losses. The Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Matjaž Han, said that Slovenia is taking into consideration the launch of a new Slovenian flag carrier: “A new national carrier is being considered, but before we get to that, we cannot stand idly by. That is why we are trying to improve Slovenia’s connectivity by subsidising routes.”
The latest stats show that around 400.000 passengers have travelled through Slovenia’s three airports in 2021, almost all of them coming through Ljubljana Airport. The numbers are significantly lower than peak travel before the COVID-19 pandemic. Slovenia registered a number of almost 2 million passengers back in 2018. Most of the passengers came from or travelled to Germany, which is Slovenia’s most important connection in air travel.
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