The Slovenian government spoke with representatives of AirBaltic last week and discussed the possibility of opening a new base in Ljubljana. The Latvian airline will introduce two weekly flights between Riga and the Slovenian capital from May 2, 2024 after successfully applying for public subsidies that will cover 50% of the airline’s costs at Ljubljana Airport. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology said: “We emphasized that we are very interested in all forms of cooperation that would contribute to the improvement of Slovenia’s air connectivity. Our external partners presented the main findings of the analysis on Slovenia’s air connectivity with possible public-private partnership models.” The analysis refers to a study on the creation of a new national airline in Slovenia, which the state uses as a framework for the launch of a national airline.
AirBaltic representatives stated that they are not currently considering opening a base in Ljubljana, emphasizing that such an action would require substantial financial and organizational investments, as well as the need to establish a new brand in the market Slovenian. They, however, expressed interest in continuing discussions on the issue after reviewing the findings of the study on Slovenia’s air connectivity. airBaltic said it is looking forward to the launch of the new Riga – Ljubljana service, which it says is already showing strong demand. airBaltic has several bases and will open the last one in December on the island of Gran Canaria, with flights to ten destinations. In May 2022, airBaltic opened a base in Tampere, Finland. Additionally, it has bases in Tallinn and Vilnius, alongside its main hub in Riga.
Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News earlier this year, airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss said: “I am very sad that Ljubljana no longer has an airline. Considering Latvia, with 1.8 million inhabitants, located at the northern tip of Europe and having connectivity with more than 100 routes operated by a single airline, Ljubljana should have its own carrier and have this connectivity.” He added: “Adria Airways went bankrupt and no one else stepped in.” What we did in the Baltics was to bring a bankrupt company to where we are today. The same development is possible in Slovenia. Why don’t we do what we do and start with five planes from Ljubljana and just establish connectivity. Don’t try to compete with Ryanair and Wizz Air and fly 200 passengers for free from point A to point B. Establish connectivity, with a proper plan. The important thing for this type of model is to have the right plane. For example, in Tampere we installed a plane and established flights from an airport where nothing was happening, and now we have built a network. We don’t connect Tampere only to leisure destinations, which of course works too, but we connected it to the hubs of our main codeshare partners and so you have appropriate connectivity with appropriate timing.”