|"New opportunities opening" as Adria considers new market|
Adria Airways is hoping to enter the Hungarian market and develop into a bigger regional player, according to the Slovenian government. The Minister for Transport, Peter Gašperšič, is confident the carrier will grow under the European Union’s new aviation strategy, noting that “new opportunities are opening up” for the airline. According to the minister, Hungary will grant carriers concessions for several routes, adding that, “Adria could easily win deals there". The news comes after the European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport, Slovenia’s Violeta Bulc, urged all parties within the Slovenian aviation sector last week to develop into regional players. Mr Gašperšič is confident the country's aviation industry can thrive. Ljubljana Airport is already in private ownership and is successfully developing business plans, with cargo volumes and passenger numbers growing. Furthermore, Maribor Airport has been investing heavily and is "planning activities that are headed in the right direction", he said.
Adria's potential entry into Hungary would open up yet another new market. The airline recently began full commercial and operational cooperation with Nordic Aviation Group from Estonia, which the carrier expects will result in a “long-term alliance in the regional carrier sector and a search for synergies, which is the key to the success and survival of all regional airlines in Europe”. While details of the agreement have never been disclosed, Estonian media speculate Adria received three million euros from the Estonian government as part of the deal, although Nordic Aviation has refused to comment on the matter. Besides Ljubljana, Adria has opened bases in Pristina and Lodz over the past few years and is expected to base an aircraft in Tirana in 2016, with the opening of its fifth route from the Albanian capital. Earlier this year, Adria's CEO, Mark Anžur, said, "The question is, what are the chances for further expansion out of Ljubljana. We should not rush from there. Strategically, we want to be a European carrier and not only a Slovenian carrier. We are embracing internationalisation. There are many reasons for this. One of them being that the Slovenian market is very limited". While the carrier looks to develop its operations, the Slovenian government has reiterated that Adria's sale is a top priority. The state has received several bids for a 91.6% share in the airline.
The Hungarian aviation market has seen a shake-up since the demise of Malev Hungarian Airlines in 2012. This month, Budapest Airport handled its ten-millionth passenger for 2015, making it the busiest year in the airport's history. It has recorded passenger growth of 22% over the past five years. During the past twelve months alone, Budapest Airport added three new airlines to its portfolio (Air China, Air Transat and Iberia) and inaugurated eighteen new routes. The airport is served by 44 airlines connecting the Hungarian capital with 100 destinations this year. Furthermore, Debrecen Airport in eastern Hungary is continuing to expand its business with Wizz Air opening a base there this year. Furthermore, Lufthansa has announced it will launch flights from Munich to Debrecen next summer season.