|4K Invest focuses on Adria's future following majority share takeover|
Adria Airways' new owner, the turnaround fund 4K Invest, plans to swing the Slovenian carrier back into profit in 2016 by expanding its fleet and growing its operations in Estonia through Nordica, the Baltic country's new national airline, which utilises Adria's Air Operator's Certificate. 4K acquired a 96% stake in Adria through its subsidiary AA International Aviation Holding GmbH on Tuesday. It intends to acquire the remaining shares, for a 100% stake, and will make a takeover offer to the shareholders in the coming days. After naming four new members to Adria's Supervisory Board, 4K Invest has also appointed Dr. Arno Schuster to the Management Board, who is expected to replace CEO Mark Anžur soon. 4K Invest is a leading European restructuring fund registered in Luxembourg and managed out of Munich.
4K Invest anticipates for Adria to be profitable by the end of the year. "Actually, we look quite positively into this year, expecting good results. Adria's strategy seems like a good fit for a regional carrier", Mr Schuster says, adding there are no plans to make any drastic changes in terms of the carrier's network. Adria is believed to have registered a net loss of five million euros in 2015 following a small profit in 2014, although no financial results have been published so far. 4K Invest notes that several Bombardier jets will be added to the fleet during the course of this year, mainly to serve new destinations in and out of Estonia. "Adria Airways will make good connections available for business customers and offer attractive ticket prices for tourists. It will continue to serve the markets of Slovenia, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, connecting these countries with the world through the Star Alliance network. It intends also to grow in Estonia, a new market it entered in November 2015", Mr Schuster adds, noting, "We want to grow with our own existing network and to make it more efficient". Adria's CEO-in-waiting admits that he has no experience in the aviation sector, but says 4K Invest has experts on corporate restructuring and that human resources within the company will provide know-how.
Adria Airways' pilots, who initially scheduled a day-long strike for tomorrow, have called off the industrial action following the airline's acquisition. The union and the new owner struck a long-awaited collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday. However, Slovenian media speculate that in the coming months, Adria's new owners will lay off a number of employees. Mr Schuster says 4K Invest will "definitely look at the cost base" but did not directly respond to questions concerning possible staff cuts. The current CEO, Mark Anžur, previously noted, "The fund had said that it would stick to the current strategy. This means reducing costs per passenger, as well as an analysis of the processes and optimisation". Of the 415 staff currently employed by the flag carrier, 150 are in the back office. "This is still a little too high compared to other carriers. But we face a challenge with economy of scale because of our size. Retaining a certain standard of service requires having a certain number of staff. Therefore, it is crucial for Adria to continue growing while reducing the share of its fixed costs", he said.