Accessing Slovenia via Ljubljana’s Brnik Airport from anywhere north of Luton has become that bit more difficult, following the release of flag-carrier Adria Airways’ summer schedule that has halved, to one, the amount of weekly flights between Manchester and the Slovenian capital.

For at least the last twenty years there has been a Wednesday and Saturday service connecting Ringway with Brnik, allowing travellers the flexibility of visiting Slovenia for 3, 4, 10, and 11 nights. Although the twice-weekly link had endured, it gradually became more difficult to book a seat with Adria as package holiday companies who specialise in Lakes and Mountains resorts booked en bloc the vast majority of the seats. Coupled with the size of aircraft that operated the route often being downgraded from a 140 seat Airbus A319 to a far smaller configured Bombardier CRJ900, the level of frustration with the seemingly managed decline of Adria’s commitment to Manchester has been keenly felt by those with no other direct options from the north of England.

In the unlikely event that Adria Airways will wet lease a larger aircraft for the one remaining flight between Manchester and Ljubljana, I foresee that travellers not particularly enthused by the prospect of venturing to London to fly directly or to change aircraft, will instead opt to holiday in Austria or Switzerland, two countries easily accessible from Manchester and most regions of England.

Slovenia has become an extremely popular tourist destination since its free market economy flourished after secession from the former Yugoslavia. Prices have inevitably risen, at times unrealistically, even for those from western countries with greater levels of disposable income making an otherwise expensive Austria a more cost-effective destination for summer hikers and climbers. Despite British tourists having a long-standing love affair with the region decades before Tito’s passing and the demise of the Yugoslav state, it seems that the UK market continues to be overlooked by Adria, and to a large extent the Low Cost Carriers(LCC’s) so commonplace in today’s crowded aviation sector. Adria Airways do of course have to do what is best for their owner, 4K Invest, and a business model that concentrates on Slovenia’s Slavic neighbours is of course only to be expected. Indeed, Slovenia’s former sister republics within the Yugoslav Federation provide many ‘Gastarbeiter’ that underpin several of the routes part of the airline’s schedule. In my opinion there are though a lack of flights, not in the least from the provinces of the UK, which will bring tangible financial benefits to Slovenia as a whole, as opposed to the shuttling back and forth of the foreign diaspora of neighbouring countries who in all likelihood will send their salaries back home.

It is to be hoped, although not anticipated, that the penny will finally drop with other airlines that Slovenia is inexplicably under-served by vast swathes of the UK. Low Cost Carrier easyJet probably represent the best hope of the slack being picked up, although Ryanair doesn’t look to be any nearer to introducing flights to Slovenia, the only country within the European Union not served by the Dublin-based airline. Whether the hubbub – that has admittedly died down of late – caused by the potentially seismic plans proposed by Maribor Airport’s new owners SHS Aviation will ever amount to anything other than a mere ripple of what was initially posited, would seem to hinge upon the viability of linking the east of Slovenia with more far-flung destinations than mainland Europe. Notwithstanding whether or not a Sino-Slovene aviational link is ever consummated, there could though be potential for SHS’s airline, VLM, to flesh out its currently modest roster with flights between Maribor and the UK.

While there are options aplenty, racing certainties are less than thin on the ground. Perhaps it is a post-Brexit aftershock, but as things stand attracting the British Pound to Slovenia does not rank particularly high with its tourism stakeholders.

Source material and further information:
Ex Yugoslav Aviation: