European airline grounds all flights as it runs out of money

Slovenian national carrier says it needs access to ‘fresh cash’


Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 24 September 2019 14:36 BST
European airline grounds all flights as it runs out of money

Twenty-hours after the final Thomas Cook flights touched down after the company folded, another European airline looks on the brink of collapse.

Adria Airways, the national airline of Slovenia, has halted all flights on Tuesday and Wednesday, 24 and 25 September apart from a single departure from Frankfurt to the capital, Ljubljana, and back.

In a statement on its website, the carrier said: “Decision to temporarily cease flight operations is a consequence of currently unsecured access to fresh cash which airline needs for further flight operations.

“Company is at this point intensively searching solutions in cooperation with potential investor.

“Goal of everyone involved is to make Adria Airways fly again and that ceasing of operations is indeed temporarily.

“The company deeply regrets the situation and apologises to all its passengers and partners.”

Adria Airways was founded in 1961 and, during the 1980s, flew many charter flights between the UK and the then-Yugoslavia, under the brand name Inex Adria.

It was privatised in 2016 but has struggled ever since. In 2017, a Swiss subsidiary, Darwin Airline, went bankrupt.

Experience suggests that the small airline will find it extremely difficult to secure funding. Thomas Cook failed to find the £200m needed to secure its future, with lenders alarmed at the prospects for ferocious competition in the winter.

The relentless growth of budget airlines has damaged many of the “legacy” carriers in Eastern Europe, including Malev – the defunct former national airline of Hungary.

If Adria Airways goes out of business, it will create further opportunities for low-cost airlines to move in – with easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air evaluating options for services to routes where Adria Airways has a monopoly, including Frankfurt, Munich, Prague and Vienna.

Adria is a member of the Star Alliance, and a failure will cause disruption for thousands of travellers.

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Adria Airways carried 1.2 million passengers in 2018, the same number as Ryanair flies in three days.

Most of its operations are to and from the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, though it also has secondary hubs at Pristina in Kosovo and the Albanian capital, Tirana.

It had a series of failed attempts to connect smaller cities with London, including Paderborn Lippstadt in western Germany and Maribor in eastern Slovenia.

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