Majority shareholders of Maribor Airport, the trade union backed savings bank Delavska hranilnica, have secured additional flights for 2016 to somewhat mitigate the loss of Adria Airways’ service connecting Slovenia’s second city with the Essex-based London Southend facility.

Whilst the loss of Adria’s presence has been felt at Edvard Rusjan Aerodrome, there is still the possibility that the national flag carrier will resume flights during the summer of 2016 although much will depend on the ongoing liquidity issues affecting the airline and, whether the process to privatise the predominantly state-owned concern has been completed.

Maribor will initially link up with the northwestern German city of Dusseldorf, the route’s introduction fueled by strong interest from tour operators. The carrier’s identity has yet to be confirmed but is expected to be the German-owned Express Airlines, a small but multifaceted enterprise whose main base is listed as Maribor Airport. Offering a diverse portfolio of services Express are well-known in Slovenia for operating panoramic tours of the stunning scenery for which much of the country is famed, complementing its flight school and simulator with seasonal charter flights between Croatia and Karlsruhe, Bremen, Leipzig and the aforementioned Dusseldorf. Express Airlines also offer a limited service between Brac and Malmo during the summer months.

Despite  the possibility of linking Maribor with the German cities that already form the bulk of its timetable Express are keen to widen its appeal by targeting Munich, the Macedonian capital Skopje and Pristina as future destinations, three diverse locations that will have been strategically chosen for differing reasons. Munich offers year-round appeal as a short break destination and a mecca for football tourists although routes into the former Yugoslav cities of Skopje and Pristina will presumably target the Kosovan and Macedonian diaspora demographic and their families, many of whom work in Slovenia. There are also opportunities to tap into the popularity of spa resorts, a profusion of which are within a relatively short distance of Maribor and the equally unheralded winter sports scene, much of which centres on the Pohorje range and the annual FIS-sanctioned Golden Fox women’s slalom event.

Adria Airways hope to not only reintroduce services into London but bolster its presence in Maribor during 2016 by basing an aircraft at the Hoce Slivnica-based facility, a more cost-effective solution than flying an empty aircraft from Ljubljana’s Brnik Airport to Maribor before continuing on its journey to Southend, and/or, destinations rumoured for 2016 such as Germany and several Spanish holiday resorts.

A veritable gold rush all of a sudden seems to be occurring in Maribor now that Express Airlines appear to have blinked first in utilising a modern, fit for purpose but chronically underused airport to expand its services. With rumours of Wizz Air being in advanced negotiations to introduce flights from Edvard Rusjan Airport and the perpetual hearsay from Adria adding to the intrigue, it will be interesting to see just how much of the speculation is mere talk and which of the stories ‘have wings’.

Further reading on this matter can be found at:

Ex Yugoslav Aviation: 2016 – a comparatively busy year for Maribor Airport?