VLM Airlines upbeat over new Maribor operations


VLM Airlines is buoyant following the launch of its new service from Antwerp to Maribor via Munich, despite initial poor loads. Following the launch of its five weekly flights to Maribor just over ten days ago, the airline has been forced to cancel a number of its departures from Slovenia's second largest city since no tickets were sold, however, the carrier noted that this was expected and that similar action was taken shortly after its route between Antwerp and London was introduced in October 2017, which has since become the most popular in its network. "The first two months of the year are the worst in terms of passenger numbers. Reservation for flights in the coming weeks and months are already accumulating. Recently, we had a record number of reservations for our flights, which is likely also to have resulted from an advertising campaign we launched in Belgium and other countries. We are confident that the number of passengers will increase in the coming days and weeks", VLM spokesperson, Yves Panneels, told the "STA" news agency. The largest number of passengers to have boarded the service from Maribor so far is twelve, while the greatest number of travellers to have arrived from Munich is 23. The flights are operated with the fifty-seat Fokker 50 aircraft.

VLM Airlines' Chief Operating Officer, Carl Runge, indicated that although no concrete plans have been made yet, the carrier is interested in establishing flights from Maribor to Zurich and Belgrade, as well as summer charter flights to the Croatian coast. The General Manager of Maribor's Edvard Rusjan Airport, Boris Bobek said, "We're happy that regular services are returning to Maribor Airport. We believe both Munich and Antwerp are very interesting destinations, mostly because of the onwards connections offered from Munich, and, of course, because of the strong existing ties of our region with Bavaria". Excluding a handful of flights to Split and Dubrovnik last summer, VLM has not operated scheduled services from Maribor up until now. As a result, the airport handled just 6.000 passengers last year.

VLM Airlines maintains scheduled services from Antwerp to London City Airport, Zurich and Munich, in addition to its new Maribor flights. Furthermore, VLM also operates charters, ACMI and private flights from Antwerp, Brussels and other European airports. It holds an Air Operator's Certificate both in Belgium and Slovenia. Its fleet consists of six Fokker 50 turboprop aircraft and two Airbus A320-200s, which are all registered in Belgium. However, earlier this month, it was announced that an unnamed Dutch investor would take over the two A320s, as well as some forty of VLM Airlines' employees. The investor also intends to proceed with VLM’s long-term ambition to commence long haul flights between Europe and Asia using Airbus A330 aircraft.

Comments

  1. Good luck. They will really need it with those sorts of loads.

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  2. LOL, what a money laundering skim!

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    1. The stuff with the sale of A320s sounds very murky. "Unnamed Dutch investor"...

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    2. Yes and I bet he is "Dutch" only in his passport. As for the "investor" part... LOL indeed.

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    3. I read in Belgian media yesterday that VLM is now looking for new planes but that unions are worried about the sale of the two A320s.

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  3. At least they are being honest about their loads and their performance so far. Good luck to them.

    I am still skeptical their BEG flights might work but who knows.

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  4. Out of all the airlines in the world I still can't believe MBX got in bed with these guys.

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    1. They are playing the same game as BNX did for a long time, only working with "proper airlines".

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  5. They actually have amazingly cheap prices. It's a great opportunity to visit Munich or even Antwerp. BTW they have a full meal and beverage service on this flight. The size and quality of the meal would put most established airlines to shame.

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    1. not to forget that MBX has no parking fee and is very close to the motorway between Maribor and Zagreb...

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    2. Starting fares on routes from MBX (return flight):

      MUC ->117€
      ANR ->117€

      At the start of the new services they offered special prices:

      MUC ->58€
      ANR ->36€

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  6. On how few passengers will one of their flights realistically operate?

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    1. I think they operate all flights where they have at least 1 pax.

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    2. Well, that sounds like a good business plan.

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    3. Qatar flew to BEG with 15 to 20 passengers at first but today they manage to fill their A321. It takes time for a destination to develop.

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    4. Great comparison, Qatar to BEG and Banana air from MBX.

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  7. 23/50 passengers is not bad for such a new route. Considering they started ticket sales a month before the flights started.

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    1. +1
      Hope they learn they can't just put tickets on sale 2 weeks before they start and expect a full plane. The same was the case with their SPU/DBV flights during the summer.

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    2. SPU/DBV bookings went through a local tourist office..... now they developed it but a shame they are not pushing it for the summer together with flixbus connections etc....MBX airport has a great location and all international buses should stop there! marketing marketing marketing!

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    3. Exactly. What is the point of starting ticket sales a month before the flights are supposed to start? Have they not learned anything from the poor loads they had from Maribor last summer?

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    4. Agree with original anon. Considering these flights operate five times per week I think the loads are reasonable for the first 10 days and with little advanced time to buy tickets.

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    5. 23/50 most likely happened just once and that should rather be their average LF during low season.

      Being so stupid to start this service with competition 30km away and in the lowest part of low season is beyond words. They must make incredible losses. It seems to me they are not after profits. If they were they would rather try it with routes that have a good potential to be lucrative - if it has to be MBX then yes e.g. SPU, DBV. Or as someone else mentioned already POZ-BEG, BWK-BEG, ZAD-BEG. All perfect for a turboprop and if ASL is not able to operate those they can attempt to profit from it nicely.

      But that would mean selling these routes now, not start sales in June when everybody has already booked other flights or arranged the long car ride taking up to 12hrs in summer being stuck in traffic jams.

      They can base a F50 in MBX to fly this pattern:
      2x weekly MBX-BEG-ZAD-BEG-MBX-SPU-MBX
      2x weekly MBX-BEG-POZ-BEG-MBX-DBV-MBX
      1x weekly MBX-BEG-BWK-BEG-MBX
      1x weekly MBX-BEG-LSJ-ZAG-LSJ-BEG-MBX

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    6. LSZ of course, not LSJ.

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    7. I think that MUC was rather good desition. There are 5 daily flights from GRZ (LH, CRJ900), 3 daily flights from LJU (JP, CRJ900) and also up to 5 flights from ZAG (OU, LH, A319). Filling a Fokker 50 with 50 seats should not be so hard from MBX. Given that, they offer really good prices, good on board product and 20kg check-in baggage in cheapest fare.

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    8. Yes thay need try beograd brac route...or brac with some italy airport

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    9. Anon @ 5:05PM: Yes, but from all other flights except VLM, you can connect on to LH network. And you have the added bonus of not needing to fly on an old turboprop.

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    10. But there must be some p2p traffic too...

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  8. I really do not know what to think about this airline. I wish that they succeed though.

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  9. Actually loads are not that bad all things considered. Hope it works out for them.

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  10. Does MBX terminal have any duty-free shop of caffee?

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    1. There is a good caffee bar at MBX. I believe that duty-free shop is not open.

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  11. I wrote already on an older post that it would be interesting to consider also flights like
    1,3,5,7 vce-mbx-bud and 2,4,6 mxp-mbx-bud it would function as an alternative feeder to muc/zrh/beg

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    1. that would be a great offer a bit against LH group...

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    2. i agree. It is just strange that no one react on my post

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  12. 59 EUR to Munich. That really is a bargain. Plus baggage and meal included.

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  13. It’s all about marketing. And so far that’s not their strongest suit.

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    1. I agree. I think Maribor Airport should also do some more promotion. On their website they don't have a single banner promoting these flights - and the airline and airport is run by the same company!

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  14. Congrats and good luck!

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  15. Are the pilots and cabin crew from Belgium or Slovenia?

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    1. All are from Belgium.

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    2. I'm surprised at this Wouldn't Slovenian workforce be cheaper?

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    3. They already have type-rated crews from original VLM. Finding and training new people to fly this ancient aircraft would make this whole thing even more unprofitable that it is now.

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    4. But the safety cards on the aircraft are also in Slovenian language...

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  16. Belgrade-Portoroz will be nice if runway lenght is sufficient for their fokkers

    ATCO

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    1. It's long enough for ATR-72s...

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    2. yes, but for departure only 50% of the cabin is filled, runway is too short for full cabin. That's why the flights were subsidized (if I remember correctly 25 seats were payed by tourist board)

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  17. They are already selling tickets for Maribor-Munich-Antwerp for this summer season which is a good sign. Thir schedule is a bit different.

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  18. Don't get why people are so against this airline. Seems more realistic and serious then the numerous start up airlines we've had across ex-Yu and that people were actually excited about.

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    1. +1 last anon. And none of the other airlines even managed to get an AOC or fly gor over a week. This is far more serious.

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    2. Because they've promised a fleet of 20+ aircraft including widebodies and now all that's left is couple of old and knackered turboprops flying with less than 50% LF?

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    3. And founders of that company are well-known crooks with several air companies companies bankrupt in less than one year over the past

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    4. Harm Jan Prins
      - Holland Exel (Netherlands)
      - Air Exel (France)
      - Belgium Exel (Belgia)

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    5. harm prins is gone since nov last year.In fact they are looking for a new CEO as far as I know.Anyone interested?

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  19. If they made some sort of agreement with LH and offered connecting flights from MUC onwards, planes would be packed.

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    1. LH will not have code-share as they have 20+ daily flights from Graz, just 30 km from Maribor.

      Also LH does not have code-share on new companies with so old planes and suspicion business plan.

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  20. Why doesn't Kraljevo Airport consider persuading VLM? Kraljevo-Maribor with possible connections via Maribor to Germany and Belgium.

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    1. You serious dude?

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    2. Kraljevo Airport isn't open for it to accept traffic.

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    3. Such routing would match them nicely, wouldnt even be a surprise.

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    4. Maybe it is not open, but this is the idea - to reopen the airport. It is much easier to fill the 50 seater Fokker.

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    5. Something is better than nothing. Turboprops would work for LYKV (if weight restrictions are indeed a factor)
      Austrian would be perfect for LYKV with Q400, but one cannot be picky.

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  21. I flew VLM 10 years ago Lon City to Antwerp, the same Fokker 50. How old are these planes ? I recall they have new interior.

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    1. There you go:

      Fokker F50 OO-VLS VLM Y50 Jun 2014
      (Mar 2001) Active EC-GBG Freddy Van Gaever
      Fokker F50 OO-VLO VLM Y50 Aug 2015
      (Dec 1999) Stored ES-AFL
      Fokker F50 OO-VLN VLM Y50 May 2016
      (Apr 1993) OO-VLN Vizion Air PH-VLN
      Fokker F50 OO-VLQ VLM Y50 Apr 2015
      (Sep 2001) Active EC-GBH
      Fokker F50 OO-VLI VLM Y50 May 2015
      (Oct 2006) Active PH-JXC
      Fokker F50 OO-VLZ VLM Y50 Jun 2014
      (Oct 2004) Stored TF-JMU Deauville Normandie

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    2. Thanks ! Not bad at all, apart from one dating back to '93.

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    3. Not bad if you look at the actual first flight, not delivery to ex-VLM.

      A bit more factual:

      OO-VLI: 24th July 1991
      OO-VLN: 19th January 1989
      OO-VLO: 13th July 1988
      OO-VLQ: 29th May 1989
      OO-VLS: 21th December 1989
      OO-VLZ: 17th September 1992.

      Almost brand new. Mint condition.

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    4. :-) thanks for the info !

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    5. Rodney and Del Boy Trotter run this company!

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  22. They had such a difficult start. Let’s wish them all safe landings, good loads and sustainable revenues.

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  23. does anyone knows tha last LFs? MBX-MUC?

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