The much anticipated announcement, not to mention a widely held notion predicting the route in question have today been confirmed by Adria Airways and Maribor Airport. Slovenia’s worst kept secret, which has seen the Delavska hranilnica acquired airport, based just outside the nation’s second city, herald a potential new era of cooperation between it and the Slovenian flag-carrier, the strong rumours of a new Maribor-London service proving to be more than just hearsay.
When one conjures up an image of a London-based airport, the mind inevitably focuses upon Heathrow and for short-haul routes in particular, Gatwick. The Hungarian airline Wizz Air have seemingly cornered the low-cost carrier market from London Luton but nevertheless, today’s announcement of a Maribor to London service that actually flies into the Essex town of Southend has perhaps come as an anticlimax for many. With return-fares starting at €69 it is though unrealistic to expect Adria to use one of the capital’s bigger airports(with correlative landing-charges to match) but to many, the concern will be that this is just another example of a low-cost airline flying into an airport servicing a major city but otherwise, having few if any links to it, not in the least due to the relative geographic distance. The point though is valid and must be made: if passengers want cheap flights,there must be an acceptance that the cost of arriving at your final destination will not end when purchasing air tickets. If a quicker route into the centre of London is required or a layover needed, the higher cost of using Gatwick from Slovenia is inevitable. Easyjet flights to London Stansted from Ljubljana are another option but for those living in the east of Slovenia, and nearby Croatia, Hungary and Austria’s Carinthia, the service into Southend is certainly the next best thing. It is perhaps with these transnational markets in mind that the Maribor service has been introduced, for residents in areas of the aforementioned tripartite who wouldn’t otherwise have direct access into England’s capital. With travel times between the east of Slovenia and Brnik being little over an hour and a half it is not necessarily the Slovenian demographic this new route has in mind. It will though be interesting to see the statistical breakdown of nationalities using this initial four month service, running three times a week from June until the end of September and with tickets on sale from March 30th at www.adria.si/
Those with romanticized views of flying to London, one of the world’s iconic capital cities will perhaps be disappointed to be arriving into an Essex seaside town more famous for the length of its pier and underachieving football team. It will though surprise many that being a mere 40 miles from central London, Southend’s airport has its own railway station servicing a direct link into London’s Liverpool Street station. Furthermore, those using the Maribor service during the first two months of operation will receive a free train-ticket to the centre of London, a not inconsiderable offer which should assuage those benefiting otherwise irked by the airport’s relative distance from the capital.
Rumours abound regarding additional services from Maribor Airport, with routes connecting Slovenia with Azerbaijan and Russia being foremost amongst them. It is though without question that a definite process of intent begun once Delavska hranilnica purchased this chronically underused airport, an investment of €900,000 hardly suggesting the airport was acquired just to prove Slovenian assets don’t automatically have to fall into foreign ownership to be a success. With a modern facility being fit for purpose and open for business, it was inevitable additional flights would be added to what was an extremely modest roster of summer charter flights, private charters and freight traffic. Now Adria have demonstrated their self-imposed restyling as a budget airline in all but name, the fit with Maribor Airport seems to be an excellent one, if the numbers make it work. Initial excitement and high levels of uptake will inevitably plateau but insulated against over-committing at this early stage, a four month summer/autumn service appears to be the correct length. Whether this is merely a precursor to more Adria services being operated out of Maribor will depend on the success of the only way being Essex. It will also be interesting to see if Adria decide landing charges imposed by Brnik’s new owner-operator Fraport become more punitive than competitive, again potentially paving the way for Maribor to pick up the slack.
Additional reading on this subject can be found at: Zurnal24: Maribor to Southend route confirmed