Two month deadline to keep Maribor Airport open


The Slovenian government has exactly two months to find a new operator for Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport, otherwise it could be forced to close its doors. The airport's current operator, China's SHS Aviation, will terminate its concession on July 15, after cutting short its fifteen-year management and development contract. Despite not delivering on most of what it promised, including transforming Maribor Airport into a hub for Chinese tourists, SHS expressed its dismay with delays by the central government in adopting a zoning plan, which would have allowed it to commune a 660 million euro redevelopment project. The Slovenian Ministry for Infrastructure has conceded it is yet to adopt the new zoning plan which would allow for the extension of the airport's runway.

Stakeholders in various companies utilising Maribor Airport's services called on the government yesterday to prevent its closure. They include the Mayor of the Municipality of Hoče-Slivnica, the head of the Medical Helicopter Emergency Services, the Transport Manager at Maribor Airport and officials from the ACC Air School. "We believe our airport is important. We are concerned because the Ministry for Infrastructure is yet to communicate its plans", Maribor Airport's Traffic Manager, Tone Bračko, said. Štefan Mally, the head of the Medical Helicopter Emergency Services, noted, "If the airport closes, we must quickly search for a new base in order to continue providing emergency helicopter medical assistance. In 2018 we had 280 helicopter movements, and I believe they have saved many lives".

In a statement, the Ministry for Infrastructure said, "The Ministry is working on finding the right solution to ensure the smooth functioning of Edvard Rusjan Airport in the future". However, it is believed the ministry is still undecided whether to offer the airport up for a new concession or sell it. It has been deemed as too expensive for the airport to be state-run. Discussions have taken place with Turkish investors, however, no firm agreements have been made. SHS Aviation purchased the "Aerodrom Maribor" operator for seven million euros in December 2016 and won a concession to run the airport for a period of fifteen years.




Comments

  1. What a mess. I hope they find a solution.

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  2. Perfect airport for Ryanair and other low costers.

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    Replies
    1. Why haven't they come then?

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    2. Maribor is an airport no one needs. Operation costs for the limited activities are too high. And GRZ LJU ZAG are too close to justify another airport in the region.

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    3. But it could serve as s low cost alternative to ZAG and LJU. It's not as if these two have some huge LCC presence.

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    4. Very correct.

      This airport is ideally located for LCC that could help mostly village and spa tourism in that area to be more developed.

      Also it can be LCC alternative for LJU, ZAG and GRZ serving passengers from Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and Croatia.

      I hope Slovenian Goverment will recognize it by offering special conditions to FR or W6

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    5. And theres also KLU

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    6. Trebalo bi osposobiti i Varaždin kao alternativa Mariboru, kad već...

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

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    8. 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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    9. You can't have an "LCC alternative", where the competitive airports (ZAG,LJU,GRZ) aren't operating at full capacity.

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    10. Of course you can have it and it has nothing to do with "full operating capacity" of competitive airports.

      Therefore it is alternative as neither ZAG nor LJU offer decent LCC traffic

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    11. BNX is the perfect example of alternative airport to ZAG.

      Maribor would be here even in better position as it is closer to ZAG

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  3. No surprise this is the result of the Chinese 'investment'.

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    Replies
    1. True all Chinese airport investments in Europe turned into a big failure.

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    2. You expected something, really!?

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    3. Chinese haven't done a great job with Gorenje either.

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  4. Can't the state just take over?

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    Replies
    1. 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. That would be very bad news for the Slovenian tax payers.

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    3. Maybe we should also close schools and hospotals so tax payers don't have pay for them. Airports are a key part of a country's infrastructure.

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    4. *hospitals

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    5. Yes, MBX is a key part of Slovenia infrastructure. In September last year there was 50 passenger going through the airport, i.e. less than one full bus.

      The reason why MBX was built is because of the hard border between Yugoslavia and Austria back in the old days. And nobody had the guts to admit it is not needed in 21st century with Schengen and no borders.

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    6. Slovenian taxpayers continue to finance privatized airports too. Portoroz Airport gets state aid even though its privately owned. The Ministry of Infrastructure has so far paid more than 2.7 million euros to the manager of the Portorož airport, the last payment in February this year.

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    7. That's crazy. Why do they do that?

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    8. @10.31 Did JAT used to fly to Maribir during Yugo times?

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    9. As far as I remember JAT used to fly from Maribor to Belgrade, Split and Skopje.

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    10. Interesting thanks. Benefits of a big single market I guess.

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    11. Hard boarder anon 10.31? People from Slovenia could go from Yugoslavia into Austria without any issue.

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  5. 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 3 yrs ago.

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    2. Maybe Fraport could develop it into an LCC airport.

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    3. That would increase Fraport's costs. They don't need that.

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

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

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  7. Slovenia's only state-owned airport? I thought the Chinese bought it from Delavska hranilnica?

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  8. 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. Haha goodness I remember that. Crazy.

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    2. Main issue
      Maribor - Graz Airport: 60 km

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    3. Graz isn't a great alternative. They mostly have seasonal charters.

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    4. That's so not true. Graz has Austrian flying to several cities, plus KLM, Turkish Airlines, Swiss and Lufthansa. They all fly year round on scheduled basis. So with one stop you can pretty much reach any place in the world. Same as from Ljubljana.

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  9. Bravo Alenka Bratusek. Nice to see you are on top of things...

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    Replies
    1. Money laundering scheme has now been completed and certain government officials got a nice envelop.

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  10. Air Serbia should have introduced Nis-Maribor instead of Ljubljana :D

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    Replies
    1. Yes that would have been an even bigger success.

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    2. And fly with with A330.

      BEG-LJU: ATR72
      INI-LJU: A319
      INI-MBX: A332

      Makes perfect sense.

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  11. Tipicna prica sa Balkana. Tek posle uzimanja aerodroma od strane Kineske SHS Aviation pod petnaesto godisnju koncesiju,
    Vlada u Ljubljani vrsi rezoniranje zemljista oko aerodroma. "Uplasili" se.
    Verovatno da ce sletati mnogo Kineza... Izvesno jeste da SHS Aviation ne moze cekati tako dugo vreme odluku Slovenacke
    administracije. Drzava bogata. Mozejoj se. Kineski koncesionar
    je primio "novu" lekciju ispod Alpa. Na kraju aerodrom velikog grada Maribora pada u neizvesnost. Sto se Kine tice, za verovati je
    da ce i neuspeh preziveti...
    Mnogo srece Mariboru. Za Kineze ne brinem. "Za parice i u carice"
    Tako kaze stara poslovica.
    Rodney & Aviation Team. ✈☺🔅✨✈🌏🌍🌎✈
    Kings Park. NSW Australia.

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

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    Replies
    1. Lack of demand?

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

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    3. If even LCCs cannot generate demand with low ticket prices, then you know it's a failed project.

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

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    Replies
    1. Which routes could work from Maribor?

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    2. Maribor would fit perfectly into FR... don't know how that went wrong

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    3. Well, you know FR's busines model, don't you?

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  14. Awesome article.

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  15. The fantasy of Maribor becoming an intercontinental hub was a joke.

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  16. 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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    1. 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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    2. 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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    3. The government ran LJU very well. Get your facts straight.

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    4. Traditionally, Slovenian government has had no idea how to run most of the state-owned enterprises, especially in aviation.

      JP and MBX are prime examples. Draining tens of millions of EUR into JP black hole and building a completely new terminal in MBX for < 10k pax a year and making studies whether it would be feasible to build Cat 2 ILS installation.

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    5. Yeah, yeah. Still, this hasn't got anything to do with how well LJU did as a state owned airport.

      Btw, I do agree that JP and MBX were/are total mess ups.

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  17. 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.

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  18. It's painfully obvious that there is simply no demand for Maribor. Reminds me of OSI

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    Replies
    1. OSI is such a tragic story that could have worked if Tuzla didn't kill it. Maybe Croatia should subsidize flights on OU like Serbia is doing in INI.

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  19. As if this wasn't expected.

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  20. Balkan business.

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    Replies
    1. There are examples of these sorts of things across Europe and the world. Remember Spain's ghost airport with brand new terminal?

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    2. Amateurs doing business with amateurs.

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    3. Or with money launderers ...

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

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    Replies
    1. It is more sad Slovenian taxpayers had to pay many millions for an airport that was empty even before that.

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

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

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    Replies
    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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  23. At least Maribor Airport's fate is not sealed for the next 13 years

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    Replies
    1. Yes now it could be closed and sealed forever.

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    2. That won't happen. Even if they close it, it would be temporarily. Too much effort, money and time had been invested in the airport to calmly allow its doors to be closed

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  24. This is not looking good. The Ministry of Infrastructure still has not presented a plan on how they plan to operate Maribor Airport after July 15.

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  25. 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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  26. SHS's accounts in Slovenia have now been blocked. Don't know how they will pay the concession fee for May, June and July.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe their concession will be terminated earlier then. That's an even worse scenario for the government.

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  27. MBX should work on promoting itself as a good GA airport with good conditions for training and test flights.

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  28. No matter who the operator is, this airport unfortunately has no future due to its location and surrounding airports.

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  29. Will FR resume flights from STN?

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    Replies
    1. Ryanair flew there for a few months but local tourist authorities that were funding the flights didn't have enough money and the flights stopped.

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  30. Is it possible to have fee of 1 Euro like we have it in Niš airport?

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    Replies
    1. It's actually 3 euros at Nis ;)

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  31. In light of the recent developments at smaller airports in ex-Yu such as Tuzla, Nis, Banja Luka, Osijek, I feel like Maribor could have gone the same way and attracted LCCs. Now it has nothing.

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    Replies
    1. Of course it could. But not with that level of incompetence.

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  32. This airport can do much better.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. But now it's too late.

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  33. Za dva mjeseca ponekad ne uspiješ stan iznajmit, kamoli koncesionara nać.
    A oni što govorite kako MBX ne može funkcionirati zbog LJU, ZAG itd. objasnite mi molim kako recimo jedne Pardubice imaju promet. I to puno!

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  34. MBX need international train link to compete with GRZ,VIE etc. I am rather as for Ryanair to try Volotea, Transavia, Svoboda etc. copy and paste from BTS.

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  35. MBX need international train link to compete with GRZ,VIE etc. I am rather as for Ryanair to try Volotea, Transavia, Svoboda etc. copy and paste from BTS.

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