Strong interest for Ljubljana Airport continues
The Italian SAVE SpA, operator of Venice Marco Polo Airport, Treviso Airport, part operator of Charleroi Airport in Belgium and the future operator of Verona Airport, is eying to purchase a stake in Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport as its privatisation process looms, Italian media reports. It comes some nine months after the company first expressed interest in purchasing a stake in Slovenia’s busiest airport. Enrico Marchi, the CEO of SAVE, says the company’s long term goal is to create a complex of interlinked airports in north-eastern Italy which could also include Ljubljana. The Slovenian capital and Venice are only 245 kilometres apart. Marco Polo Airport has for long been drawing passengers away from Ljubljana due to its close proximity and exceptional links to the rest of Europe and beyond. Italian media believe Ljubljana Airport is the missing link in SAVE’s regional airport empire which is why it is keen on acquiring a stake. It would prove as a replacement for Trieste Airport which is operated by another company.
Jože Pučnik Airport has been marked for sale this year along with another fourteen government run companies. Slovenian Prime Minister, Alenka Bratušek, has not set a firm timeframe for the airport’s sale but has said that, “The process will be carried out promptly and will be fully transparent”. Only last week, Ljubljana Airport CEO, Zmago Skobir, stated China Southern Airlines is considering purchasing a stake in Ljubljana Airport but also other sectors of the Slovenian aviation industry including Adria Airways and other assets owned by the airline such as its flight school and property.
Originally, the now former Slovenian government planned to retain ownership over the existing terminal building, runway and cargo facilities while the new owner would run the new terminal, scheduled for construction this year, and would have control over the airport’s commercial operations. However, the construction of Ljubljana’s second terminal is now in doubt with minority shareholders to vote on whether to approve the project on September 16. It is believed they are leaning against the idea. During a recent visit to Slovenia, the Russian Minister for Communication and Mass Media, Nikolai Nikiforov, said Russian companies are also considering bidding for a stake in Ljubljana Airport. Jože Pučnik Airport is set to end four years of continual passenger decline in 2013.