A resurgent Ljubljana Airport has regained its traditional hold over Skopje’s Alexander the Great aerodrome, overtaking the Macedonian capital’s facility after lagging behind during the first six months of 2015. Whilst all the indicators of passenger uptake in relation to aircraft capacity, overall footfall and net profit point to an ongoing upward trend, data for the latter months of 2015 will serve as a more accurate barometer of Ljubljana’s current health and whether the 2014 takeover of the aerodrome by Frankfurt-based airport operator Fraport has had any lasting, tangible effect.

With most charter services traditionally operating from June to mid September traffic through Brnik will inevitably slacken off in the next few weeks although the mainstay, anchor routes operated by Air Serbia, Swiss and Turkish Airlines will ensure healthy figures of patronage using these scheduled, year round services. There is also the promise of the now confirmed route between Warsaw and Ljubljana operated by LOT, slated to commence in 2016. If Fraport can work in conjunction with tour operators specialising in the winter sports sector then a more year round feel could be engendered at Brnik, rather than the comparative emptiness of the terminal once the winter schedule commences or more to the point, on the summer roster’s denouement. For those who wish to ski at Vogel above Bohinj, Kranjska Gora and once again this winter at Bovec but reside in the United Kingdom, only those within touching distance of London Luton or Stansted can directly access Joze Pucnik airport to connect them with their winter resort of choice. Travellers are otherwise left with an unenviable 3-4 hours transfer time from Salzburg. If Slovenia considers itself to be a serious destination for winter sports enthusiasts it needs to accommodate travellers from northern British airports such as Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Edinburgh, much in the way the far smaller but more geared up Innsbruck Airport is able to do.

For the time being the data presents a picture of an upwardly mobile airport benefiting from the expert knowledge Fraport was able to bring to the party. Much though will depend on the traditionally fallow winter months and how the gap between the busy summer months can be bridged. Fraport have though quite correctly acknowledged the mistakes of the past which effectively coupled together the fortunes of flag carrier Adria Airways and Slovenia’s primary airport. Whilst the future of Adria remains uncertain but hopefully ‘up in the air’ Fraport have sought to diversify its range of routes, subsequently attracting several industry behemoths, most notably Swiss and Turkish Airlines. Adria still has a significant role to play at its long-established home but once the raft of summer season charter services it operates draws to a close its scheduled services that are often aimed at the corporate end of the market, whilst important to the airline, Brnik and the wider economy, are hardly going to make up for the shortfall in passenger numbers felt during the orthodox off-peak months. If Ljubljana can provide a healthy mix of scheduled and charter services that span the entire calendar year, it is to be hoped that eventually the difference between the erstwhile peak and off seasons will become indivisible.

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Ex Yugoslav Aviation: Ljubljana regains the lead over Skopje