|Maribor Airport turns to Wizz Air for low cost flights|
Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport is in talks with low cost airline Wizz Air over potential flights from Slovenia’s second largest city. The newly appointed Managing Director of Maribor Airport, Ladimir Brolih, says the two sides are locked in talks over potential services but adds further analysis and discussions are required. Northern Germany and Scandinavia have been identified as underserved markets from Slovenia. Wizz Air previously planned to launch additional flights to Ljubljana, complementing its existing services from Charleroi and London Luton. However, despite talks with Ljubljana Airport in late 2013 and early 2014, the planned flights never materialised. Wizz Air was the fourth busiest carrier operating out of Ljubljana in 2014, handling just under 150.000 passengers.
Wizz Air says it is continuously looking at opportunities to expand its network of destinations in the region. It says, “Wizz Air is committed to achieving the lowest cost base in the region and airport choice has a crucial impact. This is why Wizz Air operates to a mix of primary, secondary and regional airports, which provide low costs that reflect in price and provide friendly and fast customer service”. The no frills carrier boasts three bases in the former Yugoslavia - Skopje, Tuzla and Belgrade - and maintains services to Ljubljana, Ohrid and Niš, as well as seasonal summer flights to Split. Furthermore, the airline has held talks with Sarajevo, Pristina and Podgorica airports over the past year over potential services. However, Wizz has conceded that all three must first lower their fees before the airline could consider flying there. Furthermore, its operations in Croatia have been limited as a result of pricing. CEO Jozsef Varadi recently told EX-YU Aviation News, “Croatia is very expensive. If Zagreb Airport becomes more reasonable we will certainly consider that airport as an opportunity for expanding our network but this is not yet the case”.
Maribor Airport is looking to attract new carriers in an attempt to boost passenger numbers. In addition to Wizz Air, the airport has entered talks with Express Airways, which has a flight school at the airport and offers panoramic flights over Slovenia, as well as seasonal commercial services from Brač and Split in Croatia to Germany and Sweden. It currently operates its flights with a leased ATR72-500 aircraft. Maribor has suggested for the airline to launch scheduled services from the city. Furthermore, Adria Airways is expected to announce by the end of the month whether it will extend its seasonal service from Maribor to London Southend Airport into the winter season. Mr Brolih says that, following the decision, the two sides will discuss plans for Adria to base an aircraft at the airport in an attempt to minimise costs. Maribor Airport handled 17.568 passengers last year, the majority of which were flown on charter flights. During the first half of 2015, the airport welcomed 5.289 travellers, up 41% on the same period last year.