The new operators of Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport, the 60% Dutch and 40% Canadian-owned SHS Aviation, have announced the launch of a new Slovenian carrier which has plans to overtake Adria Airways as the country's main airline. Outlining the company's plans, the head of SHS Aviation announced yesterday that the new carrier will commence operations this summer and is in the process of acquiring six Airbus A320 and fifteen Airbus A330 aircraft, all of which will be registered in Slovenia. Their arrival is expected from June onwards. The company intends to commence eleven routes out of Maribor this year, including Belgrade, Berlin, Hamburg, London, Podgorica, Split and Zurich in Europe, as well as Xi'an, Chongqing and Nanchang in China. The Mayor of Maribor, Andrej Fištravec, said Slovenia's second largest city will become a global player and specialist for Asian travellers.
SHS Aviation has two subsidiaries. One is SHS Antwerp Aviation (registered in Belgium), which bought VLM Airlines that went into bankruptcy last June. SHS Antwerp Aviation is based in Antwerp and will remain in the city with seven Fokker 50 aircraft. SHS Aviation Slovenia (registered in Slovenia) will develop airport activities in Maribor. The company recently registered VLM Airlines Slovenia. According to the head of SHS Aviation, Pang Siu Yin, the new operators of Maribor Airport will invest at least 300 million euros into the city, which will include the construction of a new passenger terminal at the airport and the lengthening of the runway. SHS foresees Maribor Airport handling 1.54 million passengers and 82.000 tonnes of cargo by 2022. This number is expected to grow to two million passengers and 160.000 tonnes of cargo by 2028. According to Mr Pang, the new airline expects for an Air Operator's Certificate to be issued by Slovenian authorities swiftly.
Some 139 million euros will be invested into the airport, including the development of long haul flights, over the next five years. Mayor Fištravec noted, "We have been working together for more than two years and we have reached several agreements on co-financing flights to Chinese cities, while building up a fleet that will be larger than that of our national carrier". In time, the airline plans to introduce services to India and Iran as well. The Slovenian Minister for Infrastructure, Peter Gašperšič, said, "The plans are very ambitions and I am certain they will be mostly realised. This is an important day for the airport's development. With its location, Edvard Rusjan Airport undoubtedly has the potential to become an important logistical hub and the arrival of important investors such as the Austrian automotive giant Magna, which will be in close proximity, will surely contribute to this". SHS purchased the "Aerodrom Maribor" operator for seven million euros last December. The operator yesterday won a fifteen year lease of Maribor Airport's infrastructure. It came at a cost of 95.000 euros per month (VAT excluded) with the option of a five-year extension. Maribor Airport handled some 11.000 passengers last year but has no scheduled flights.
A full presentation of the company's plans can be found here.