Aegean heading to Ljubljana and Dubrovnik
Greece’s largest carrier, Aegean Airlines, has announced plans to expand its operations in the former Yugoslavia. The Greek airline, which last week received approval from the European Commission to buy out national carrier Olympic Air, will add fifteen new destinations and fifty new flights to its network in 2014. At a press conference in the Greek capital yesterday, the airline said it is considering introducing services from Athens to Ljubljana and Dubrovnik. If it does so, Aegean will go head to head with one of its Star Alliance partners. Croatia Airlines operates seasonal flights from Dubrovnik to Athens, however, the route is currently in doubt for next summer as a result of the carrier’s network reductions from Dubrovnik. On the other hand, Adria has suspended its flights from Ljubljana to Athens some time ago.
The merger between Aegean and Olympic will see both airlines retain their brand names, though Olympic is set to significantly reduce its network. Belgrade is likely to be one of the causalities next summer. Olympic has been struggling to compete against Jat Airways on the Athens - Belgrade service over the past year and next summer faces Air Serbia's double daily flights on the route and an additional double daily flight from Belgrade to Thessaloniki. On the other hand, Aegean has never operated scheduled flights to neither Croatia nor Slovenia but ran charter services to Maribor this summer.
Aegean’s new route launches will come as bad news for Banja Luka Airport which has been courting the Greek airline for the past year. Over the summer, the two sides discussed possibilities for Aegean to launch flights from Athens to Banja Luka. Only last week the airport said it had sent all necessary documentation to Greece’s largest airline and was expecting Aegean to reply. However, Banja Luka did not garner a mention at yesterday’s press conference.