|Ljubljana Airport posts encouraging trends ahead of sale|
Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport has seen its passenger numbers grow over the first five months of the year as it continues its recovery following the fallout from the global financial crisis. Slovenia’s busiest airport saw its passenger numbers improve almost 6% in the first five months while its net profit rose 5.4% to 857.000 euros. The amount of handled cargo was also up by 8% on last year. The encouraging trends come as a strong incentive for potential investors as the government prepares to sell its 75.5% stake in the airport. “The airport is performing better than last year and above our projected plans”, it said in a statement. It added the airport is looking to exceed its 2013 results in all key areas. The growth is being driven primarily by Adria Airways’ recovery and low cost airlines such as easyJet and Wizz Air.
This summer season, Adria Airways launched services to Warsaw and Prague, both of which are performing well for the carrier. Furthermore, the airport has seen a significant surge in charter traffic this year, primarily to the Mediterranean coast. Greece’s Aegean Airlines has launched flights from Rhodes to Ljubljana which will run until the end of the 2014 summer season. On the other hand, Israel has also emerged as a popular new destination for Slovenian tourists, with Arkia Israel Airlines inaugurating seasonal summer flights from Tel Aviv to Ljubljana today with a Boieng 757. Sun d’Or and Adria also offer seasonal flights to Israel’s largest city this summer season.
So far, more than twenty companies have expressed interest to purchase a 75% stake in Ljubljana Airport. Among them are airlines, airports and pension funds, as well as investment groups specialising in restructuring companies for later sale. Among the interested parties are Asia’s busiest carrier, China Southern Airlines, as well as the Fraport Group, which manages Frankfurt Airport. Others who have expressed strong interest to bid for Slovenia’s busiest airport include Munich Airport, Zurich Airport, French engineering and consulting group Egis, as well as Italy’s SAVE which manages Venice Marco Polo Airport, Treviso Airport, Verona Airport and is the part operator of Charleroi Airport in Belgium. In addition, the French based concession holder and operator VINCI Airports has publicly revealed plans acquire Jože Pučnik Airport. The sale is expected to be finalised later on in the summer. A new owner will have to address the issue of constructing a new terminal building. Late last year, the airport’s minority shareholders, mostly made up of banks, rejected plans for the construction of a new terminal, which was pitched by the state. Regardless of the privatisation process, Ljubljana Airport plans to carry out minor investments this year including the purchase of new conveyer belts, fire trucks as well as devices for screening liquids.