Adria Airways’ Air Operator Certificate Extended Despite Bankruptcy

Slovenia has extended the Air Operator Certificate for Adria Airways, its former flag carrier and national airline which went bankrupt more than a year ago. Let’s take a look at the reasoning behind this decision.

Adria Airways A319
Adria Airways has been bankrupt for more than a year. Photo: Getty Images

Adria Airways AOC extended

The Slovenian Civil Aviation Agency has given a further nine months to the holder of Adria Airways’ Air Operator Certificate to meet its obligations before the AOC is terminated, Dnevnik reports. The original termination date was 30th September 2020, which is just over a year since Adria Airways ceased operations.

The Air Operator Certificate is currently held by an airline set up in Slovenia last year, following the collapse of Adria Airways, called Air Adriatic. Air Adriatic is owned by Montenegrin businessman Izet Rastoder, regionally known as the ‘King of Bananas.’ Rastoder is the owner of one of Europe’s biggest banana import and export businesses, the Derby banana brand.

The King of Bananas purchased the Adria Airways Air Operator Certificate from Adria’s bankruptcy administrator, Janez Pustatičnik, in January 2020. It was sold for just 45,000 Euros ($52,650) in an auction. 45,000 Euros was also the starting price for the AOC.

Adria Airways
The Adria Airways AOC is now owned by Izet Rastoder, who Slovenian media have dubbed the “king of bananas”. Photo: Getty Images

At first, Slovenia did not miss Adria

When Adria declared bankruptcy, Slovenian politicians announced a plan to set up a new national airline within a year. However, that intention was quickly shelved because European carriers flocked to Ljubljana to replace former Adria Airways routes very quickly.

Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, and Swiss stepped in within weeks of Adria’s collapse to cover its routes to Zurich, Frankfurt, Munich, and Brussels. British Airways doubled capacity to Ljubljana straight away: it had scheduled four weekly flights to London Heathrow, up from two the year prior. Montenegro Airlines scheduled six weekly flights out of Podgorica, up from three weekly. Aeroflot and Air France doubled their own services out of Ljubljana to Moscow and Paris respectively within weeks of Adria starting to collapse.

Lufthansa A319 getty
At first, Slovenia did not miss Adria because Lufthansa Group airlines stepped in. Photo: Getty Images

COVID-19 changed everything

However, everything changed with COVID-19. Slovenia is now badly missing a national airline again. Already in early September, the whole of Slovenia was seeing just several flights out of its airports per day. One airport, Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport, has no scheduled flights. The capital city, Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, has as few as two (!) departures a day, and never more than a handful.

Lufthansa used to run a daily service between Munich and Ljubljana ever since Adria collapsed. The route was suspended in March, and tickets are no longer on sale until next year’s summer season. British Airways has canceled all of its planned flights between London Heathrow and Ljubljana for the entire year. The last flight it operated on this route was in August 2019. Transavia, Brussels Airlines, LOT, easyJet, and SWISS have all discontinued ticket sales to Ljubljana too.

So will Slovenia get an Adria Airways number 2 after all?

Do you think Adria Airways will ever be resurrected in the end? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.


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