Slovenia-Based Adria Airways Suspends Flights: Lacking Operational Funds

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia—Slovenia-based carrier Adria Airways on Sept. 24 suspended all flights except one to Frankfurt for two days due to a shortage of funds.

The company halted its flights on Tuesday and Wednesday, saying it will only fly to and from its “most important hub” of Frankfurt.

Slovenian media reported thousands of people have been affected and forced to look for other transport solutions. The STA news agency described the Adria Airways flight grounding as “the biggest upset in Slovenian civil aviation in decades.”

An information board at the Ljubljana Joze Pucnik Airport displays cancelled flights of Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways due to suspension of most its flights in Brnik, Slovenia
Information board at the Ljubljana Joze Pucnik Airport displaying canceled flights of Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways. Most of its flights were suspended in Brnik, Slovenia, on Sept. 24, 2019. (Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images)

Adria Airways has said the suspension is temporary.

“The company is at this point intensively researching solutions in cooperation with a potential investor,” it said in a statement late Monday. “The goal of everyone involved is to make Adria Airways fly again.”

Adria Airways was founded in 1961 and during the 1980s operated many charter flights between the UK and Slovenia. In 2016 Adria incurred financial losses and was privatized by the government.

Formerly Slovenia’s national carrier, Adria Airways was sold in 2016 to German investment fund 4K Invest—a company with no prior experience in the aviation industry. The company has since sold all its planes and is using leased planes.

In 2017 the airline’s Swiss subsidiary, Darwin Airline, declared bankruptcy.

In 2018 Adria Airlines signed a deal with Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) to lease 15 Russian aircraft and to establish an organization to repair and maintain them at Ljubljana Airport in Slovenia. The deal looked good on paper as Adria Airways would receive state-of-the-art fuel-efficient aircraft fairly cheaply.

However, the deal was never finalized because it required certain conditions to be met for it to become viable, according to Adria Airlines managing director Holger Kowarsch. Adria Airlines canceled the deal in April 2019.

The airline now needs to renew its aircraft to sustain its business, but without an investor it does not have funds to acquire new planes.

The decision to suspend flights came after repeated delays and cancellations by the cash-strapped carrier. Two of the company’s leased planes have been taken back because of unpaid debt.

The Civil Aviation Agency of Slovenia will announce its final decision on the future of the Adria Airways on Sept. 25.

“The company deeply regrets the situation and apologizes to all its passengers and partners,” Adria Airways said.

Ella Kietlinska contributed to this report.