Maribor, 05 October (STA) - Maribor airport is seeing a rise in passenger numbers this year, mainly owing to summer charter flights operated by travel agencies. The airport operator Aerodrom Maribor is operating at break-even point.
"Compared to the past three years, we increased turnover in the passenger segment by 200% this year, which means these flights brought us almost 13,000 passengers. Revenue was up 30% in the first eight months," Aerodrom Maribor CEO Marko Gros has told the STA.
He hopes that the travel agencies cooperating with the airport will expand their services with other destinations next year. The company is also in talks with other potential new partners, but Gros would not talk about the details yet.
Travel agencies Kompas, Palma and Intelekta are happy with occupancy rates at their flights to Greece and Turkey. Kompas alone carried around 1,500 passengers from Maribor airport. Officials there are satisfied as flights were fully booked except for a few empty seats at the start of the season.
"The passengers were satisfied with the services, mainly because the airport is smaller, new and not too busy as well as because of free parking. But they missed a duty-free shop and similar services, which people at the airport say they will tackle by next season," Kompas official Tina Peček told the STA.
Kompas plans similar flights for next year, while Palma is considering expanding their services to add new destinations to the two flights operated this year, spokesperson Nika Vrhovnik said. The agency carried almost 2,000 passengers.
Aerodrom Maribor boss Gros is less upbeat about plans for scheduled flights. The main reason is the financial one, especially after the government scrapped incentives from the budget for next two years, and the local communities have made it clear they do not have that kind of money.
"Unless an investor appears that would also bring scheduled flights, then this is not a realistic option for the time being. But we'll be the more competitive in charter flights until then," said the boss of Aerodrom Maribor.
The company has recently formally passed into the ownership of Aviofun. The company that also manages the Slovenj Gradec airport, bought Aerodrom Maribor for EUR 700,000 from the bankruptcy assets of Prevent earlier this year.
Talks with prospective investors are ongoing. Gros expects more to be clear in six months, but says talks would be made easier if the company obtained a licence from the state for a longer period. Changes to aviation legislation are in the pipeline and the call for applications is to come out in May or June.