Europe’s largest airline, Ryanair, is in talks with Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport over potential flights to the Slovenian capital. Ljubljana Airport recently confirmed it had entered into negotiations with the no frills carrier but noted that these were still at a “very early stage”.
Ryanair yesterday included Ljubljana in an advertisement along with other cities it already serves across the continent. It is the second time the two sides have sat down for talks. In 2011 Ljubljana Airport proposed for Ryanair to operate services out of Dusseldorf, Madrid, Oslo and London to the Slovenian capital, however, the deal never materialised. Over the past year, the carrier has been running frequent recruitment drives for new cabin crew members in Ljubljana, with one of them taking place tomorrow. In a short statement, the airline said passengers should “keep an eye out for Ljubljana”.
Ryanair currently operates services to every European Union-member state with exception to Slovenia.
The budget airline briefly maintained flights between London Stansted and Maribor in 2007 and 2008. Despite solid loads, the route was terminated after the budget airline hiked prices for a joint advertising program, which was turned down by local authorities. In 2013, following its failed talks with Ljubljana Airport, Ryanair requested for the European Commission to act swiftly and conclude their investigation into whether Adria Airways accepted state aid and benefits from the Slovenian government to the tune of up to 85.5 million euros from 2007 to 2011, contrary to European Union competition laws. In a letter to the Commission, Ryanair said, “State aid was provided to Adria despite its inefficiencies while Ryanair has to develop its own market and is losing revenue”. The Commission subsequently ruled in favour of Adria.
Slovenian media recently reported that, in addition to Ryanair, Ljubljana Airport is in talks with carriers such as Iberia Express and Vueling, while Norwegian Air Shuttle told EX-YU Aviation News of its interest in the Slovenian market. In a statement made this Monday, Ljubljana Airport said, “We have introduced an updated and flexible tariff system which has improved competitiveness, as well as incentives available for attracting new airlines. The system will contribute to the introduction and expansion of new and existing flights, as well as to the engagement of new carriers”.
Low cost airlines have recently boosted their operations to the Slovenian capital. Late last year, easyJet launched flights from London Gatwick, while the Dutch-based Transavia announced it would introduce services from Amsterdam this April. Furthermore, Wizz Air recently outlined plans to boost capacity on its London Luton – Ljubljana service by upgrading its equipment on the route from the 180-seat Airbus A320 to the 230-seat A321 aircraft this September. Ljubljana Airport’s General Manager, Zmago Skobir, said last month that the airport is doing its best to attract new carriers but warned that fuel prices, state taxes and other charges, which it has no control over, continue to act as a deterrent for airlines.