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Buying Airbuses Was Adria's Biggest Mistake, Exec Says

Maribor, 20 March (STA) - If Slovenia's flag carrier Adria Airways sticks with its existing business model, it will not be making a profit, the boss of the company operating the Ljubljana airport told the daily Večer. Aerodrom Ljubljana boss Zmago Skobir thinks Adria's biggest mistake was the purchase of Airbuses. He thinks its fleet should be unified.

The biggest worry for Aerodrom Ljubljana, which recorded a drop in the number of passengers but improved its financial results last year, is the problems of Adria Airways.

Skobir thinks the announced staffing changes at the carrier are not a good idea given that every new management first has to learn how things work in the aviation business.

"I would propose a meeting of all Adria stakeholders - Aerodrom, Petrol, hotel owners... so that we come to terms what we want of air transport and what we need to do to achieve this. We would get a strategy, each in their own area of expertise."

Skobir finds the idea that having a national flag carrier is in Slovenia's national interest misguided. "Our national interest is being connected to the world," he pointed out.

Commenting on the memorandum of cooperation which was signed by Adria Airways, Aerodrom Ljubljana and Air India last June, Skobir said he saw business opportunities in Air India.

The Indians wanted cheaper fuel and no airport landing fees. The fuel price was a problem, because Petrol cannot go below a certain level; a solution could be provided by the state, which could lower the taxes and excise duties.

"We still don't have an agreement on air transport with India and without it we cannot do business," he said. The project of cooperation can indeed be launched by Adria and Aerodrom, but it must be finalised at the inter-governmental level.

Skobir said Aerodrom Ljubljana did not have high prices but could not influence the prices of fuel or taxes. He said talks were currently under way with Ryanair on two or three new routes.

However, given that Ryanair wants to fly "practically for free", this would undermine Aerodrom's pricing policy, Skobir said.

He said that the Bratislava airport for example had more passengers than Aerodrom in 2011 but generated a loss of EUR 4m, because it was mostly doing business with budget carriers.

According to Skobir, there is room for only one airport in Slovenia. But he added that Aerodrom Ljubljana had never obstructed Maribor Airport or sabotaged it projects.

Aerodrom Ljubljana has two major goals in the mid-term: the construction of a new terminal and expansion of its network with new carriers and destinations.

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