Ljubljana hopes for China flights
Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport CEO, Zmago Skobir, has sent an invitation to China Southern Airlines to launch flights to the Slovenian capital with the two sides set to hold talks this week. The news comes after the Slovenian government announced last week it would finalise a bilateral air agreement with China. China Southern is the world’s sixth busiest airline and Asia’s largest airline in both fleet size and passengers carried. The airline currently operates flights to 121 destinations with a fleet of over 420 aircraft. Despite its size, China Southern has a limited presence in Europe with flights to Amsterdam, Paris, London, Moscow and Istanbul. Ljubljana Airport hopes passengers would use the service as a transit point to South Eastern Europe and the flights would also attract a sizable amount of tourists.
Ljubljana Airport has served other Asian based airlines in the past. Japan’s JAL operates summer charters to the Slovenian capital, catering primarily to tourists. Slovenia’s busiest airport is also hoping to attract Qatar Airways to launch services to the city, though it is already present at nearby airports such as Zagreb, Budapest, Vienna, Venice and Belgrade. In the first quarter of 2013, Ljubljana Airport welcomed 211.843 passengers, down 2.7% compared to the same period last year. However, trends are improving with the passenger decrease amounting to less than 1% in March while second quarter figures saw numbers increase for the first time in months.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Slovenian government signed an air traffic agreement with Kuwait in order to establish air links between the two countries. The government notes the agreement will help promote economic ties between the two countries. The Head of the Kuwaiti Civil Aviation Directorate, Fawaz Abdul-Aziz Al-Farah, said he hoped the agreement will result in actual flights between the two. Kuwait Airlines will operate charters to Sarajevo this summer, starting in August, but is not present in the region. The Slovenian Ministry of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning said the agreement shows the country’s growing importance as a regional aviation hub.