Slovenia to get new airline, aviation portal says

Ljubljana – A new airline named SouthEast Airlines is emerging in Slovenia, web aviation portal Sierra5 reported on Tuesday, adding that the airline will initially provide mainly charter flights using Airbus A320 fleet. At first, SouthEast Airlines is to focus on EU markets with the first licensed commercial flight planned for early June.

Experienced pilots and instructors, aircraft engineers and mechanics as well as financial and other experts from aviation-related fields are among the founders and managers of the new airline, which is headquartered in Trbovlje, east of Ljubljana, according to Sierra5.

In the initial phase, SouthEast Airlines intends to focus on providing high-quality charter flights and services for other airlines, such as ACMI leasing.

The project has been in preparation mode for roughly 20 months, co-founder of the company Blaž Berdnik told the portal.

“In January our intentions to set up a new airline headquartered in Slovenia were formally confirmed by the first official interview held at the Civil Aviation Agency,” he said.

SouthEast Airlines will kick off its business with a single 180-seater economy class aircraft. Its fleet is expected to grow by one Airbus A320 already this year.

The first commercial flight approved by the agency is expected to be operated at the beginning of June.

“Given the current epidemiological situation, we expect the air travel market in Europe to stabilise in spring or summer next year,” said Berdnik, noting that this year was the year of opportunities for companies with a good strategic plan and business ties.

At first, SouthEast Airlines will zero in on EU markets. The airline has already signed a deal over “a quite demanding charter programme” for summer 2021, Berdnik said.

Recruitment and training of flight crews have started as well, he added. Initially the airline expects to employ from three to four crews for the first aircraft, which would mean some 35 employees along with ground staff.

Any additional staff expansion would increase the number of employees by three or four crews per any additional aircraft.

The standard number of crew members per Airbus A320 crew is six with an option of a technical support member joining the team due to operational requirements.

The SouthEast Airlines management has not yet decided on the airline’s base. According to Berdnik, it is not necessary the same airport would serve as the base all the time. The call for proposals and negotiations will begin in the coming weeks.

As its name suggests, the airline will primarily operate in South East Europe, focusing on Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Greece and Turkey.

It is not yet clear whether SouthEast Airlines could become the new Slovenian flag carrier. Since Adria Airways receivership, Slovenia has been without the flag carrier with the government promoting air links including by state subsidies.