SHS terminates Maribor Airport concession


The operator of Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport, SHS Aviation, has announced the termination of its fifteen-year concession of the airport, less than two years since taking over in March 2017. Despite not delivering on most of what it promised, including transforming Maribor Airport into a hub for Chinese tourists, the operator expressed its unhappiness with delays by the central government in adopting a zoning plan, which would allow it to begin its massive 660 million euro airport redevelopment project. SHS Aviation purchased the "Aerodrom Maribor" operator for seven million euros and was also obliged to pay an additional 100.000 euro concession fee each month, a condition it struggled to meet in the last quarter of 2018.

SHS Aviation gave a six-month termination notice to the Slovenian government this week, noting that the concession agreement was unsustainable. It added that the Ministry of Infrastructure had rejected financing models which would have made the concession financially viable. Last November, the ministry turned down a request by Maribor Airport's Chinese operator for 3.2 million euros worth of state aid. SHS applied for financial assistance in line with state regulation which stipulates government support for matters of national importance. Maribor Airport planned to utilise 1.8 million euros of the aid in 2018, 1.3 million this year and almost 115.000 euros in 2020. The application was filed due to the airport's negative financial performance in 2016 (35.000 euros) and 2017 (1.7 million euros). The operator previously said it would continue to post losses over the next three years.

The Ministry for Infrastructure has responded angrily to the termination of the concession, noting it was "astonished" by the latest development. "The Ministry of Infrastructure is astonished by Aerodrom Maribor's decision. The contract was signed on the basis of a public call in 2017, for a period of fifteen years, with clearly defined conditions. It anticipated for the efficient and successful operation of the airport, which has excellent potential. Less than two years after signing the contract, they [SHS] requested state aid. For some time they did not pay their obligations as stipulated by the concession agreement". It added that the ministry had cooperated with SHS "to seek out suitable solutions, but it is necessary to find ones that will be most appropriate for all stakeholders involved, not just one side".

Edvard Rusjan Airport has been without any scheduled commercial flights since VLM Airlines, which was formerly owned by SHS, went into liquidation last September. The carrier initially planned to link Maribor with Belgrade, Berlin, Hamburg, London, Podgorica, Zurich, Xi'an, Chongqing and Nanchang, however, none of the routes materialised. In 2017, SHS outlined plans to invest hundreds of millions of euros into Maribor Airport by extending its runway and overhauling its facilities, after which, it said, services to China would commence. The concessionaire was due to officially present its expansion plans to the public last July but cancelled its presentation just half an hour before it was due to begin. The termination of the concession agreement will come into force in mid-June.

Comments

  1. Surprise surprise

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  2. Unfortunately knew it would end this way. It was a fairytale from the beginning.

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    Replies
    1. True. sounded too good to be true.

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  3. Great! Now the airport can be developed and maybe some LCCs can be attracted.

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    1. Are you for real? The airport has been managed by the state for all bar past 2 years. It's not like they were much more successful either.

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    2. Well there were those Ryanair flights for a while.

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    3. Were* Not Are* or Will be*

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    4. Those lasted just a couple of months and stopped as soon as the tourist organisations could no longer pay them to fly.

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    5. @9.06
      That's not true actually. Delavska hranilnica actually had a stake in the airport for over a year (before SHS took over).

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    6. Government was clueless at running ANY airport in the country. Ljubljana went to the Germans, Portoroz to the Serbs and Maribor to the Chinese. If you sold them to cover losses in your budget then you lose the right to complain and nag.

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    7. To be fairly honest, LJU was run quite well under government ownership.

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  4. The "haters" were proven once again right.
    The fantasy of Maribor becoming an intercontinental hub was a joke groom the start.

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  5. I find it ironic that it was SHS that terminated the contract with the government, and not the other way like it should have been done months ago!

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  6. The Slovenian government should not give this airport up for concession. It would be good for the state to have full control over one airport in the country, seeing as Ljubljana and Portoroz have been sold.

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  7. When will the Slovenian government close Maribor? It's painfully obvious that there is simply no demand. Reminds me of OSI and OMO a little bit, will see if they have more luck in the coming months.

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    1. I think that if they subsidise some LCCs this could be a successful airport. It would be a shame to close it down, especially since a lot was invested to develop a nice relatively new terminal.

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  8. As if this wasn't expected from the beginning.

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  9. Give the airport to Fraport.

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    Replies
    1. Why would they want it? Just to remind you that Fraport sold its stake in Portoroz Airport 2 yrs ago.

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  10. Did anyone else except SHS apply for the Maribor concession?

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    1. You can't expect anyone to be interested in an airport with no traffic, sandwiched between larger airports.

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  11. Maribor Airport has unfortunately always been a good place for some companies to wash their money. Like these SHS people. Do you remember when that airline Golden Air started flying from MBX. It was set up by the same guy that established Air Slovakia and the plan was for the airline to link Maribor and India!!!

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    1. LOL! That's right. I forgot about that. Poor MBX.

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    2. Air Slovakia was fully operational airline operating several years B737 and B757 and they were connecting London and Manchester on one with Amritsar and Delhi on the other side, via Bratislava. I don't know why they ceased operations but when they stopped from Bratislava, they were probably looking somewhere close and cheap, and that's how MBX came into the game. Also I don't know why they didn't manage to continue ops via MBX , but "the guy who established Air Slovakia" was not LOL at all at those times.

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    3. not so true. Company did exist from 1994, but was sold to Indian Harjinder Singh Sidhu who opened flights London-Bratislava-Amritsar in 2006. Because of that "innovated" concept in 2010 they lost AOC.

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    4. Well, according to you, "innovated concept" lasted for 5 years - 2006-2010. And the fact he managed to sell the company which operated for 5 more years proves my point. You simply cannot LOL company which operated B757 under EU regulations for 7 years, just because they missed to switch to MBX

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  12. This airport can do much better. It is the best that the Chinese will leave.

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  13. The money laundering was completed, certain government officials received their "gift" for allowing it and now the money launderer says goodbye.
    Another beautiful day in the Balkans!

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    1. This cannot be true, Slovenia is not in the Balkans ;)

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    2. Not geographically but politically and culturally it definitely is.
      And scandals such as this prove it.

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    3. Lol, Slovenia not Balkans? Bi**h please :)
      Just because Slovenia is in north and bordering Italy doesn't make it less Balkan.
      Besides there is nothing to be ashamed of. Balkans are always associated with a depressing or poor place but people actually forget that the standard of living is increasing.

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    4. Slovenia isn't Balkan, partially Balkan at most.

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    5. The Maribor airport as an intercontinental hub connecting Europe with China was as Balkan fairy tale as it can be.

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  14. Good riddance.

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  15. Why MBX struggles to find airlines to fly there? Its a cute airport but totally unused.

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    1. Lack of demand?

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    2. Nope, Maribor and the area has a lot of potential Ryanair passengers.

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    3. It is small airport serving small catchment area and close to many other airports already offering many travel possibilities.

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  16. Better that the city invested some money and given it to Ryanair or Wizz air to fly to Maribor.

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    1. Which routes could work from Maribor?

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  17. Wow. I'm shocked lol

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  18. MBX can do better. can serve as a low cost alternative to LJU. imagine all the gastos from BiH and MK and so on .

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  19. It's sad that such a nice terminal is sitting empty

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    1. It was stupid move from the government to even build that terminal.

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  20. Had Maribor started growing it could have finally forced LJU and ZAG to lower their charges.

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    1. Why Zagreb?

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    2. Because Zagreb is less than 100 km away and is known for highest charges in ex-yu.

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  21. The only things the Chinese have done is put up Chinese signage at Maribor Airport :D I'm serious

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    1. I don't understand for who they did that since there hasn't been a single Chinese passenger using the airport.

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  22. Thank goodness! At least Maribor Airport's fate is not sealed for the next 13 years. These guys would never have allowed any LCC or any other airline for that matter to fly to MXB except some of their phantom carriers (VLM and the likes). At least this way Maribor will have a chance.

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    1. They should do what Nis did for example. Cut handling costs and they will see FR and W6 come.

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    2. That's right. With high fees in ZAG and LJU, and almost no major LCC presence in Graz, Zagreb and Ljubljana, Maribor with 3-4 EUR fee per passenger could transform itself into Ryan, Wizz or Easy LCC central for the whole region.

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  23. MBX is like marina withowt water, LJU very limited, POW is a joke. Stop dreaming and set up wake up clocks before geopolitics change again. Slovenia needs a speed train to VIE or MUC while LJU is well connected to LJU. How tourism brings more crap then revenue you just need to learn from others. About Chineese no comment. Slovenian governments proved being usless one after another; examples in JP, LJU, CAA, ...

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    1. You know Portoroz has more passengers than Maribor?

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    2. Ma koji speed train brate mili? Ovu je željeznicu gradi već Franjo Josip. Ne može se njom brže od 120/sat.
      A LJU je država vodila sasvim dobro. Ne pametuj.

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  24. Amateurs doing business with amateurs.

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  25. MBX should get Volotea, Transavia, WOW to connect everything what is not connected from ZAG,LJU,GRZ! Not forget russian market! Svoboda can fly to LED and KBP!

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    1. +1
      I think there even were some charters from Russia to Maribor several years ago.

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    2. WOW is not really in a position to launch new routes and Transavia already flies to LJU. Russian market is covered with JP and Aeroflot to LJU.

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  26. Did JAT used to fly to Maribir during Yugo times?

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    1. Je. Bilo je MBX-BEG a preko sezone i SPU i DBV. Letio ja jedanput.

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    2. Eto mene. Svaki dan je isao DC-9 navecer iz BEG za MBX, a ujutro MBX-BEG. I dobro kaze Athos, u sezoni je bio i SPU i DBV ali i 2 x tjedno redovni FRA

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  27. What MBX, GRZ, LJU and ZAG need to make is a LCC revolution.

    I mean come one, even travelling to and from SKP is now cheaper.

    This region needs more growth, more destinations and more LCC at once.
    This region must become the next INI-SKP-PRN LCC revolution.

    SKP made 2 million, Nish made a third of a million and PRN is heading towards 3 million.
    Why not MBX?

    Look at TZL and BNX etc!!!

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    1. fyi, PRN is very far from 3 million. It surpassed 2 million at the end of last year for the very first time

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    2. The airports which already had "LCC revolution" that you mention have much much more gasto people than those you propose for revolution. The airports you list as an example are geographically more or much more distant than ones "without revolution". Plus in case of ZAG easily accesible LCC s in RJK, PUY, ZAD, and in case of LJU in TRS, TSF, VCE.. . So I don't think any revolution would happen there in near future. Some new LCC traffic possibly and probably, but some very big numbers, I doubt it

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  28. Possibly the Chinese overimagined the Maribor and neighbouring municipalities' dynamism and thought they would seize their opportunity to raze the surrounding area to the ground and develop a huge tourism network.

    They probably got the idea when some bod at the Ministry of Infrastructure insisted their Chinese language signs had to be removed. At the same time some helpful villagers appeared on the terminal's doorstep in what is virtually the only protesting ever seen in Slovenia, i.e. protesting against foreigners.

    OK officially a protest against airport expansion. But without any flights or expansion plan this was a precautionary protest, presumably.

    Eventually the Slovenian government changed its own rules on the never-great distancing of itself from commerce in order to permit the Quango-isation of the airport.

    However a greater understanding of the motives at play can be gained from in this article https://www.vecer.com/dostop-do-mariborskega-letalisca-nemoten-sporno-tablo-odstranili-10043097 in which the Ministry of Infrastructure seems to equate the success of www.maribor-airport.si with its ownership by the locals - a thesis not borne out by history although the DH bank did alright out of selling it.

    For as the Ministry explains, EU funding of this project entails repayment if the situation does not change significantly "within five years of the completion of the implementation".

    The European Commission could demand a return of European funds of up to 10.54 million euros, something (like changing anything significantly, or foreigners coming over here and taking over the things they've bought etc.) that Slovenia would do almost anything to prevent.

    This presents the local tourism experts - apart from @turizemptuj - with something of an intellectual dilemma www.ptuj.co.uk

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