Ljubljana, 24 September (STA) - A bill that would allow the Slovenian government to subsidise selected routes to and from Ljubljana Airport has been drafted and could be adopted as early as this week, the Infrastructure Ministry said on Tuesday after Slovenian carrier Adria Airways temporarily suspended operations.
The bill would take effect in the event Adria is grounded for good and would ensure Slovenia retains air links that are deemed vital for the country. The Infrastructure Ministry told the STA the government had to ensure that.
Any such subsidies would require clearance from the European Commission and, more broadly, comply with EU internal market rules, and are possible only in the event carriers do not operate routes Slovenia designates as vital.
It is believed the Ljubljana-Brussels link would be designated as such given how often Slovenian officials must travel there for EU meetings; for 2019 and 2020 the government had a deal with Adria for tickets to Brussels worth almost EUR 4.5 million.
Other important destinations that only Adria operates out of Ljubljana include Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Zurich, all of which are not just final destinations but also major hubs for onward flights.
Route subsidies are one of the only direct ways the state can help in the event Adria collapses. Pure state aid is only permitted every ten years and Adria was bailed out with EUR 50 million in 2011.
The Economy Ministry said another possible option would be to finance the promotion of Slovenia as a tourism destination for guests arriving by air, given how important tourism is for the economy.
"I'm concerned about the competitiveness of the Slovenian economy at this moment, I'm sure it will face many challenges in the year ahead. But I am confident that Slovenia is and remains a flight destination and the power of demand for air connections will work," Minister Zdravko Počivalšek was quoted as saying.