“Dramatic year” ahead for Adria

More challenges ahead for Adria
Adria Airways CEO, Klemen Boštjančič, has said that Adria can expect another “dramatic year” as the airline prepares for privatisation. The Slovenian government has a 70% stake in the carrier while banks hold the other 30%, as of last year. However, the banks want to sell their shares as soon as possible and only agreed to take part in the deal so Adria could avoid bankruptcy. The plan is for a tender to find a strategic partner for the Slovenian carrier to begin later this year and for the sale agreement to be finalised in the second quarter of 2013. With Lufthansa tied with many investments in Europe, Adria expects to see interest from Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airways. All are looking to invest in Europe. Qatar Airways was recently locked in takeover talks with Spanair, which ultimately failed, Etihad recently bought a large stake in airBerlin, while Turkish Airlines is eyeing Poland’s LOT.

Despite a tough year ahead, Boštjančič notes that most of the hard work has been done with the suspension of high profile routes and other cost cutting measures already implemented. “Closing the route to Paris and London was a huge media and political story. We constantly hear from people that say because we received money from the government we should continue flying to those destinations. We have to explain to these people that we got the money from the government to stop flying unprofitable routes. There are a lot of people who really don’t get it”, Boštjančič said in a recent interview to CAPA. However, one more major obstacle remains before Adria’s restructuring programme can be deemed a success. It concerns the airline’s fleet rationalisation plans. “Clearly 2012 will be another critical year”, Adria’s CEO concludes.

As the first month of 2012 passes by Adria has already announced the resumption of seasonal flights to London, Barcelona and Manchester and has launched new flights from Priština to Verona. It also plans to significantly increase its frequencies from Priština to Frankfurt during this summer season so as to retain its place as the busiest carrier operating out of Priština. Back at home, this January, Adria holds a massive 77.5% share of all departures and arrivals out of Ljubljana Airport. Its closest rival, easyJet, managed only 8.2% and this share is set to tumble during the summer as the airline suspends flights from Paris.

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