Adria Airways will add six fifty-seat Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft to its fleet this September, which were formerly operated by the now-defunct Darwin Airline (operating as Adria Airways Switzerland), following months of delays. As a result, the carrier’s fleet will grow to 21 aircraft, making it the largest in its 57-year history. The turboprops will be deployed on a select number of routes, most notably to some of the seven new destinations launched by the airline this summer, as well as points within the region. In a statement, Adria said, “By adding six additional aircraft, the Slovenian carrier equals the largest fleet by number of aircraft in the Balkans”.

Commenting on the addition of the six turboprops, the airline’s CEO, Holger Kowarsch, said, “I am extremely proud that we have achieved a very important milestone in the history of Adria Airways. The latest acquirement confirms our commitment to investing in the company’s development since our acquisition of the company. Our goal is to keep growing and strengthening, and we believe that we are able to further transform the company into a stable, strong and important carrier in the region, by developing it for a prosperous future”. Previously, Mr Kowarsch noted, “The market is showing a strong interest in Saab 2000s. Part of this fleet will operate in our network, while other aircraft will be available for charter and our ACMI business, which is growing in Europe”.

The six Saabs are being leased from the American company Jetstream Aviation Capital. The turboprops have been grounded in Ljubljana since the demise of Darwin Airline late last year. Their reentry into service on behalf of Adria was expected several months ago, however, in May, the Swiss regional carrier SkyWork Airlines lodged a complaint with the Lugano Bankruptcy Office over the manner in which the sale of the aircraft was conducted. SkyWork argued that it was provided with misleading and incomplete information by Darwin Airline’s liquidator concerning the aircraft sale and that its inquiries relating to the turboprops during the sale process were left unanswered. As a result, an appeals process delayed the aircraft’s entry into service, forcing Adria to wet-lease equipment and crew from other airlines in order to maintain its schedule.

As of September, Adria will operate a fleet of 21 aircraft including three Airbus A319s, nine Bombardier CRJ900s and three CRJ700s, in addition to the six Saab 2000s. In a recent interview with EX-YU Aviation News, Mr Kowarsch noted that the Slovenian carrier will be adding at least another three aircraft to its fleet next year.