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Plans for Mothballed Maribor Airport Revealed

Maribor, 04 July (STA) - The Edvard Rusjan Airport in Maribor might finally get new owner as the local community has expressed interest in taking control of the mothballed airport that has recently been left without scheduled or even charter flights.

The airport is currently managed by operator Aerodrom Maribor, which is owned by bankrupt car-seat covers maker Prevent. The latter was looking to auction off the company for about EUR 600,000 in October last year but the auction failed due to a lack of interest.

With a new auction expected shortly, Maribor city councillors agreed on Monday to establish a consortium to take control of the airport in order to protect its "strategic importance", agreeing the first step would be to purchase Aerodrom Maribor.

"The airport is of strategic importance for future development of the city," said councillor Stojan Auer, the proponent of the idea for a consortium.

"If we can manage to get sense and politics to work together - something we failed to do in the past 25 years - the airport could bring Maribor and the neighbouring municipalities between 5,000 and 10,000 new jobs," he stressed.

The plans also include the construction of a logistics centre and new passenger and cargo flights from the airport.

Speaking during the government visit the region of Podravje, Prime Minister Janez Janša stressed than renovation of the Maribor airport was a national priority, highlighting its "favourable logistics position in this part of Europe, not only in Slovenia".

"We need a strong foreign strategic partner with sufficient funds, which will enable the project to continue and bear fruit," Janša said.

Infrastructure Minister Zvone Černač meanwhile voiced support for the idea of the local consortium to manage the airport, noting that interest in the airport was increasing.

Renovation works on the airport have been suspended after the collapse of construction company SCT, but Černač announced a new construction company had been signed, with works scheduled to be complete within ten months.

The entire renovation of the airport infrastructure is worth over EUR 15m, with 11.1m coming from European funds which set the deadline for completion on July 2013.

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