The Slovenian government has presented the Program for Greater Aviation Connectivity of Slovenia until 2025, which includes a list of up to fifteen routes the state plans to subsidise in order to secure new destinations. The government will provide a total of 16.8 million euros in subsidies to airlines over the next three years to launch new routes. The incentives will amount to up to 50% of the carrier’s airport fees in Slovenia. It is hoped the government’s plan will help kickstart the country’s aviation sector which has been hit by both the demise of national carrier Adria Airways in late 2019 and the coronavirus pandemic.
Ten routes have been listed as of utmost priority. The first group are larger hubs that can provide onward connectivity. They include: Vienna, Copenhagen, Athens, Madrid, Amsterdam and Helsinki. The second group of destinations are those aimed at point-to-point passengers. They include: Charleroi, Skopje, Prague and Berlin. The third group of destinations, marked as “supplementary”, will only be subsidised if there are enough funds left following the first public call aimed at the abovementioned ten priority routes. The supplementary destinations include: Rome Fiumicino, Stockholm, Oslo, Barcelona, Lisbon, Pristina and Paris Orly. If the Slovenian government receives the all clear from the European Commission to subsidise the new routes, it will launch a thirty-day tender on March 24 to find carriers willing to operate the “priority” routes. The new flights must be launched by the 2023/24 winter season at the latest. Only airlines from the European Union or the European Common Aviation Area will be eligible to apply.Ljubljana Airport has supported the government’s push to subsidise airlines to either maintain or launch new operations to the Slovenian capital. Regardless of the state’s plans, the airport anticipates a strong summer ahead. “The start of the year has been encouraging, with a significant increase in passenger traffic. The summer season will offer more destinations and flights. We are happy to soon welcome back Helsinki and Athens to our flight network. These popular travel destinations also serve as important hubs and will broaden the possibilities for our passengers to continue their journeys to the Middle East and Asia. We are also excited to see the third daily Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt and other frequency increases, which will substantially raise seat capacity on flights from Ljubljana Airport”, the General Manager of operator Fraport Slovenija, Babett Stapel, said.