The Slovenia Times

Slovenia to continue subsidising Ljubljana air routes

The new passenger terminal at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

The Slovenian government has adopted a bill allocating an estimated €5.6 million per year in subsidies for airlines to launch new routes to the capital Ljubljana and increase frequencies on existing services pending approval by the European Commission.

Only direct links will be financed via the scheme, which will consist of subsidies amounting to up to 50% of the airport charge to the carrier. Detailed criteria, the rate of co-funding for individual routes and the eligible routes will be laid down in a special programme, according to a bill passed at the end of last week.

"Our financial estimate is €5.6 million per year, based on the assumption that we will secure ten daily connections for about 255 days of the year," said Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Alenka Bratušek, who will shortly become the minister of infrastructure under an ongoing government reshuffle.

Te state will provide a list of new destinations for which it will offer subsidies, with a public call to be issued soon. Only non-stop operations will be financed.

The government wants to move fast to have the subsidy scheme in place before the summer season and has already forwarded the bill to the European Commission.

Slovenia does not have a national air carrier since Adria Airways folded in late 2019, just before the pandemic, and has relied on subsidies to attract international carrier, but they have had limited success.

Eurostat data show Slovenia recorded the biggest year-on-year drop in air traffic in the EU in 2020. Nineteen scheduled routes operated at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport in the summer season 2022, compared to 29 in 2019, while 42% fewer flights were recorded last August than in August 2019.

Since the collapse of Adria Airways there have been sporadic pushes in senior government circles to launch a new national airline. None have come to fruition and air industry experts are sceptical about success given the size of Slovenia's market, but the idea has not been abandoned yet.

Bratušek said that a task force continues to examine the feasibility of the state starting a new flag carrier. "I believe that somewhere by the middle of the year we will be able to come up with an answer based on sound facts and data."


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