Nominated as one of ten airlines competing for the World Travel Awards’ coveted honour for leading European regional airline, Adria Airways can certainly be proud to be in the running for an accolade that seeks to recognise excellence in one of aviation’s most volatile and competitive sectors.
Competition from industry linchpins such as Air Berlin and Flybe make a victory for Adria to be by no means a foregone conclusion but nevertheless provide a vindication of Slovenia’s flag-carrier pursuing an aggressive strategy to reboot its fortunes, the award nomination presumably acknowledging Adria’s resurrection from the brink of extinction to the forward-thinking, progressive airline it has begun to emerge into. A business model built upon sale and lease back foundations isn’t necessarily a strategy an airline should wish to pursue over an indefinite period but for Adria the end has justified the means, even if the material price paid for stabilising the company has resulted in only one of the twelve aircraft operated this summer being actually owned by the Brnik-based airline.
With a raft of additional routes being introduced for 2015 and slated for the following year, Adria have certainly woken up the fact that they can punch above their modest weight thanks to Slovenia’s advantageous geographic position in the centre of Europe, the country being ideally situated to exploit the fast-emerging South Eastern Europe market, underpinning a desire to base one of its aircraft in Tirana and the establishment of services from the Polish city of Lodz to complement well-patronised routes into Pristina and Podgorica. Five percent of Slovenia’s citizens are foreign nationals, migrant workers from other former Yugoslav republics accounting for much of the Balkan traffic using Adria, an established market demographic which will need to be consolidated in the face of still regional competition.
The advent of reintroduced services from Maribor’s Edvard Rusjan Aerodrome by Adria after a fifteen year interlude indicates a fresh, diversified approach which will see the airline pursue a low-cost model from Slovenia’s second city, a tie up with the Delavska hranilnica majority-owned airport that should be mutually beneficial. Whilst Adria will have a fresh base within its own boundaries whose landing charges will severely undercut those levied by Brnik’s German-owned operator Fraport, Maribor Airport also has the luxury of being a modern, fit for purpose facility with spare capacity of which other regional operators can only dream. Not only will citizens from the country’s east be able to take advantage of low cost fares there will also be a drive to attract passengers from nearby Croatia, Hungary and the Austrian province of Styria. Adria’s service from Maribor into London Southend timetabled between June to September will be seen as a litmus test to gauge the viability of any future services to the likes of Azerbaijan and Russia, two markets the local tourism authorities are especially keen to pursue that would link up tourists from the former Soviet Union with the many spa resorts in the east of Slovenia. Though it is not yet known if the ten percent drop in passenger numbers between Brnik and Sheremetyevo will impact on any future service between Maribor and Russia. a more defined market is expected to be targeted for flights which will in effect be the preserve of spa-loving Russians.
Whatever the outcome at the awards ceremony in Sardinia on September 5th, Adria can feel justly proud that their efforts to keep a Slovenian presence in the skies has been recognised in this manner.
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