Ryanair and Slovenia to resume talks over flights

Low cost carrier Ryanair and the Slovenian government are set to hold a second round of talks this month over the potential introduction of flights. This time around, the budget airline is expected to outline exact routes it is willing to establish and ways in which the Slovenian government could provide support to the carrier. The Slovenian Ministry for Economic Development and Technology, which has been negotiating with Ryanair, has run the airline through the existing subsidies the state is providing to airlines operating into Ljubljana Airport, although this is unlikely to satisfy Ryanair’s needs as the funds are only available to carriers already maintaining flights to the Slovenian capital and are small in value, with ten airlines sharing 1.7 million euros, which is unevenly distributed among them.

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Ryanair has already criticised Ljubljana Airport over alleged high fees, but the budget airline is mainly interested in serving the Slovenian capital from 2023. The Slovenian government has proposed Maribor Airport as an alternative to the Fraport-operated Ljubljana. Earlier this year, Maribor Airport held talks with Wizz Air over the potential introduction of seasonal flights to Slovenia’s second largest city, with the airline requesting a subsidy valued at almost one million euros, which was unfeasible for the airport. However, Maribor could have more luck in the government-led talks with Ryanair. The budget airline last served the city fifteen years ago.

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The Slovenian government has said it will analyse appropriate means of support to improve the country’s air connectivity to key destinations “under economically justified conditions”. However, it conceded that the country “urgently” needs to improve its connectivity. Two and a half years since Adria Airways’ bankruptcy, Slovenia is still struggling to fill the void left by the former national carrier, which was further exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. In June, Airports Council International ranked Slovenia as having the worst connectivity in Europe, while Ljubljana Airport ranked 378th out of 476 of the continent’s airports based on its number of flights and connections.

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