The numbers look promising for new Ljubljana Airport owner and operator Fraport, the German concern now charged with rejuvenating the fortunes of Slovenia’s Brnik-based primary airport.
For the first two months of 2015 a net profit of €339,000 has been posted, thanks to passenger figures totalling close to 150,000 and 2,766 tonnes of inward and outbound cargo being handled. Away from the more popular but not necessarily more profitable summer timetable of flights, this nevertheless represents a promising start for Fraport who will seek to diversify the airport’s roster of flight destinations and, consolidate Ljubljana’s strategic location as a hub for the emerging Southeast Europe market.
Much will depend on the future of Slovenia’s flag-carrier Adria Airways, who run their Slovenian services almost entirely out of Brnik but face an uncertain future being part of the ‘gang of fifteen’ state companies the current Slovenian administration are desperately to privatise. Fraport will not seek to sever links with Adria but will also not wish there own fortunes to be dictated by an airline that hasn’t proved to be impervious to the vicissitudes of the global downturn, having to resort to selling and leasing back many of ‘its’ aircraft to retain a presence in the skies. I anticipate there will always be a home for Adria at Brnik but Fraport will seek to move on from what for too long became a cosy arrangement between the two standalone entities, an indication of which has been the rumoured 10% spike in landing fees imposed on Adria although, I suspect that will be a jumping off point to further negotiations rather than a final figure that Adria’s management will regard as punitive and unmanageable. There is though of course the option of Adria moving several of its flights to Maribor, an airport enjoying modest growth under the auspices of its new majority shareholder, the trade union backed Delavska hranilnica savings bank. Landing charges one suspects will be more competitive and flights should be well patronised, with many of those who board Adria services at Brnik inevitably travelling from the eastern side of Slovenia.
Ljubljana Airport’s future looks to be secure in the hands of a knowledgeable and experienced operator; the plans for which will hopefully be innovative and include more year-round flights from around the UK, rather than the provinces being overlooked if situated further north than Luton. Announcements of Fraport’s plans are therefore keenly anticipated, as are further financial figures for the remainder of 2015, thus giving a more solid indication as to whether Ljubljana Airport can generate a year-round profit under the guidance of its new owner, or merely highlight that two months is far too short a period of time to arrive at an accurate assessment of its longer-term prospects.
Further reading on this matter can be found at: Gorenjski Glas: Brnik posts profits for early 2015