Berlin-based aviators Windrose Airlines plan to operator several winter charter flights between the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and Maribor, presumably to tap into the profusion of spa resorts within easy reach of Slovenia’s second city – facilities traditionally much-loved by those from the former Soviet Union. An additional German-based operator, Express Airlines, have signaled a firm interest in connecting their route network with Maribor, a roster of destinations including tourist-hotspots in the Iberian Peninsula and Croatia. Much fanfare accompanied Delavska hranilnica’s acquisition of the majority stake in Aerodrom Maribor, the trade union backed savings bank appearing to be the perfect partner to belatedly take a modern but chronically underused facility into the 21st century, underpinning their plans with a hope that a raft of new routes would significantly boost the slumbering tourist trade in Slovenia’s east. Despite being an area that offers so much diversity in its tourism portfolio, how to bring in paying guests has always seemed to be a hot potato of an issue that appeared to be the problem of someone else; the lack of joined up thinking and cooperation between pertinent stakeholders has perpetually betrayed a disjointed and unilateral approach. The vineyards of the east, coupled with significant hiking and skiing possibilities amongst the Pohorje Massif and the aforementioned spa complexes make Maribor and its surrounding municipalities wonderful destinations that still stubbornly reside under the radar. The expected spike in flights into Edvard Rusjan Airport has though failed to materialize, perhaps highlighting Delavska’s lack of experience in the aviation sector.
The recent announcement from Montenegro Airlines confirming their intention to further expand its operations within the former Yugoslavia sees the Podgorica-based airline for the first time schedule a weekly service during the summer season between Maribor and the Montenegrin capital. Whilst it is not beyond all realms of possibility that these flights are geared towards tourists, the most likely demographic being targeted is the Montenegrin diaspora and their family members; Slovenia is a popular destination for migrant workers from throughout the former Yugoslavia. Having no doubt been sufficiently encouraged by the exponential growth of its Podgorica – Ljubljana service, so much so that additional flights are being considered, Montenegro Airlines will use their weekly Maribor service to test the water before considering making the arrangement more permanent. There is though a danger of its load factor being watered down by adding the Maribor flight to its itinerary if, many of the passengers who formerly used its Ljubljana service opt to instead fly back home from MBX. Time will tell whether this additional but cautiously welcome flight into Maribor will complement or be at the expense of Montenegro Airlines’ existing commitment to Brnik.
Further reading on issues affecting Maribor’s Edvard Rusjan Airport can be found at: