In line with the management’s desire to broaden the appeal of Maribor’s Edvard Rusjan Airport by introducing a raft of new routes, it has been revealed through the Sierra5 aviation portal that the Delavska hranilnica majority owned aerodrome are awaiting decisions from major regional aviation players Wizz Air and Air Serbia as to whether either, both or neither are keen to introduce services from Slovenia’s second city.
Offering a modern facility fully geared up to an exponential increase in traffic, Maribor Airport remains chronically underused, despite a change of mood music since the majority acquisition in 2014 by the trade union backed savings bank. Whilst flag carrier Adria Airways operated their service into London Southend from Maribor for five months during 2015 and despite declaring passenger load factors to be satisfactory, they could have been better. The London route also had a negligible, almost nonexistent effect on Maribor’s tourism economy, with most travellers spending their currency in the UK before returning to Slovenia; a large proportion of passengers using Adria’s first service out of Maribor for fifteen years resided in nearby Croatia, Hungary and Austria, again ensuring imperceptible net gains in the local economy.
Wizz Air have been very active throughout Eastern Europe throughout the last few years but have until recently continually resisted Maribor’s blandishments for it to become its second base in Slovenia, with services connecting Brusssels Charleroi and London Luton with Ljubljana already operated by the Hungarian-based budget carrier. There does though now appear to be a softening of its stance, although it will have to carefully research the market demographics it intends to target for flights into Maribor to become viable over the long term. Air Serbia could also seek to link up with Maribor, enabling passengers to connect with its reintroduced Belgrade-New York route slated for 2016, a service discontinued in 1992 by the former JAT Yugoslav Airways at the height of the first Balkan conflict.