Two years have passed since Adria’s bankruptcy
This is the second anniversary of Adria Airways’ bankruptcy, even though the airline’s bankruptcy had been going on for much longer. We miss the former Slovenian national carrier very much as Slovenia is now the worst performing aviation market in Europe.
September 2019: Adria declares bankruptcy
Simple Flying’s coverage of the Adria Airways collapse dates back to June 2019, when the first signs of impending bankruptcy appeared and we described it as “seeming more likely by the day”. Bankruptcy finally took place on September 30, 2019.
At the time, Adria was still fully operational, but it was canceling aircraft orders and quickly reducing its route network. The airline has also experienced severe daily delays on charter and scheduled flights due to a lack of planes. Flying with Adria in the summer of 2019 was generally very chaotic.
Illustrating the chaos of Adria’s last years, the airline opened a hub in October 2018 in Paderborn, Germany. From there it flew to Zurich and Vienna as a Lufthansa feeder and Southend, but these operations were abruptly halted in a single tweet because Adira couldn’t fund them. Absurdly, it used a rented, crewed ATR for these routes, even though it had a fleet of parked Saab planes that didn’t fly at all because the airline didn’t have pilots to fly them.
Adria was even the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland because 11 million euros disappeared from the accounts of Darwin Airline between the time Adria acquired her and the time she declared bankruptcy.
In the year of her bankruptcy, Adria ordered 15 SSJ-100s. which were due for delivery in April 2019. However, Sukhoi unilaterally canceled the order after “responsible financial institutions” reviewed Adria’s financial report, they recommended the cancellation “to avoid possible losses.”
58-year-old airline has gone bankrupt
As we have pointed out in this long article, Adria Airways is an airline with a rich history, serving as the leisure airline of Yugoslavia and the national airline of Slovenia throughout its life. We also tracked the location of the airline’s 12 McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 planes, two of which crashed.
After its privatization, during its last years of operation, Adria positioned itself as a feeder of the Lufthansa group. During its last decade of operation, it made several daily flights from Ljubljana to Brussels, Frankfurt, Zurich, Vienna and Munich. At the time, Slovenia was the only country in Europe that had no flights from any of the Lufthansa Group airlines, and not even from Eurowings.
Since 2010, Adria was also a feeder airline for Lufthansa from Tirana in Albania, supplying Frankfurt. Since 2014, it supplied the Lufthansa hubs in Munich and Frankfurt from Pristina in Kosovo. It also supplied other Lufthansa Group hubs in Tirana and Pristina through its own hub in Ljubljana.
Since then, Pristina has become a Eurowings base, and has seen SWISS’s seat capacity increase so much that it has seen Edelweiss A340 planes land regularly this summer and in 2019.
Meanwhile, since the collapse of Adria, Tirana has replaced Adria with a new national airline, Air Albania, as part of a joint venture with Turkish Airlines.
At first, the effects of bankruptcy did not seem too strong
Following Adria’s declaration of bankruptcy, its assets were slowly sold. Air Serbia acquired two Airbus planes and the Adria Airways brand was sold for $ 40,000. Adria pilots have gone elsewhere, from Croatia Airlines in Zagreb and Lauda Europe in Vienna, to launching their own airlines.
Adria’s AOC was bought at an auction by a Montenegrin businessman nicknamed the King of Bananas, but it was eventually canceled in June this year.
Croatian charter airline Trade Air has opened a base in Ljubljana to operate charter flights to holiday destinations this summer.
However, air capacity to Slovenia has not been replaced. The airlines of the Lufthansa Group launched a whole new network of routes from Ljubljana immediately after its collapse, but the available seating capacity on those was only a fraction of what Adria previously offered.
Likewise, many foreign airlines flocked to Slovenia to offer air capacity between their bases and Ljubljana, but again this was far from replacing Adria’s capacity. British Airways and Montenegro Airlines have doubled their frequencies to the country, Iberia has launched flights from Madrid, Wizz Air has returned just weeks after withdrawing a month after Adria’s bankruptcy.
In the end, the impact was very negative
Once hit with COVID-19, Slovenia became the worst performing aviation market in Europe. Without a national airline to perform repair flights in the spring of 2020, and without a national airline to accelerate the recovery once the vaccination rollout accelerated in the spring of 2021, Slovenia has lagged behind.
Until the winter of 2021, there were days when there was not a single flight to or from Slovenia. For months, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, there was no theft in the country.
Even when air traffic started to pick up in Europe in June 2019, Slovenia was still lagging behind. On Friday, June 11, there were only five departures from Ljubljana: an Aeroflot flight to Moscow, an Air France flight to Paris, a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, an Air Serbia flight to Belgrade and a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul.
In July 2021, Slovenia found itself with less than 9% of its July 2019 traffic. This was an extraordinarily low score at a time when a neighboring market like Kosovo was recording higher numbers than in 2019.
As a result, the Slovenian government has gradually become more interventionist in the aviation market. A retrospective subsidy was given to airlines that maintained flights to Slovenia in 2020, and the country’s deputy prime minister said the free market could not solve Slovenia’s problems, so Slovenia could indeed prepare to soon create an airline replacing Adria Airways.
Do you miss Adria? Do you think Slovenia should intervene more in its aviation market? Let us know in the comments below.