Ljubljana, 02 August (STA) - The boss of Adria Airways is encouraged by the operations of the cash-strapped flag carrier which is undergoing thorough restructuring after racking up large losses in previous years. Mark Anžur expects that the company will finish the year in the black.
Adria Airways should return to profitability this year regardless of the outcome of a planned sale of non-core assets, Anžur said in an interview with the STA.
While the state-owned company, which was rescued by the state with EUR 50m in aid in 2011, had made a EUR 2.6m loss in the first half of the year, this is EUR 6m less than in the comparable period last year.
Anžur stressed that restructuring efforts are continuing, with one of the priorities being the sale of non-core assets, including a hangar, office building and the Adria Airways flight school.
The sale has prompted many questions in the public, especially because it includes the sale of celebrated flying school, which has helped train pilots from Slovenia and abroad for over 30 years.
But Anžur told the STA that such steps were absolutely necessary in order to secure a future for the flag carrier. "We have to simplify operations, including by selling this property, so that we can ensure liquidity for the winter months."
If the sale succeeds, he expects that the flag carrier would not require a bridging loan this winter, which he believes would be a major victory.
"Our duty is to make Adria Airways profitable and we shall do this. It is unfortunate that this cannot be done without painful measures for employees who have been a cornerstone of this company for over five decades."
He said that Adria Airways would continue to face limited access to financing this winter due to its past losses. "We have to find other means of financing."
Anžur is also continuing to form a new strategy for the flag carrier, which includes changes in flight schedules. For next summer, the company expects to launch new routes to Prague, Warsaw, London (Gatwick), Tirana, Frankfurt and possibly Dublin.
There are no plans to abolish any of the current lines, said Anžur, who added that the flag carrier would continue to search for possibilities in the charter segment.
Coming to Adria Airways in December 2012 after heading roofing company Bramac Slovenia, Anžur said that managing the flag carrier was a major challenge due to the complexity of the airline industry and the difficulties associated with turning around a struggling company.
But he assessed that the job had got easier for him due to the improving operations. "One year ago this was a job with extremely high risk. There is less risk now because of the encouraging results."
Asked about where he would like to see Adria Airways in five to ten years, he said he hoped it would turn into a company "carrying many more passengers, creating suitable profitability for its owners whilst remaining friendly to passengers and staff".
Confident that the company is capable of creating 15-20% annual growth in revenues, he emphasised that this would require the right mindset in the company. "In the short-term we can reduce costs, but when the time comes for creativity and growth, there can be no success without the right staff."