Slovenia’s main airport in Ljubljana will get a boost this winter, with various airlines planning on increasing services to the country’s capital city. Airlines across Europe and the Middle East have reaffirmed their commitment to the airport with recent schedule announcements.
This is good news for the airport and commercial aviation in Slovenia, which has been in the doldrums since the demise of Adria Airways three years ago. Adding to the burden has been the pandemic, and with no domestically-based airline, Slovenia was described as Europe’s worst performing aviation market. Last winter, there were days without a single flight in or out of Slovenia, and by July 2021, the country had less than 9% of its July 2019 traffic.
Six airlines are boosting winter flights
From that low point, it’s easy to see why these increased commitments for Winter 2022/23 are so important for the community and the airport. Exyuaviation.com reported that six airlines, Turkish Airlines, SWISS, Brussels Airlines, Air Serbia, Air Cairo and flydubai, are planning to increase services over winter. The extra flight activity at Ljubljana Joze Pucnik Airport (LJU) will be welcomed, with the airport handling just 431,000 passengers in 2021.
Starting in February, Turkish Airlines (Turkish) is introducing an additional two weekly flights between Istanbul and Ljubljana. This means there will be 12 flights per week, one every morning and five times a week in the evening, with most of the flights operated with an Airbus A321. Turkish has a fleet of 388 aircraft, and ch-aviation.com data shows it has 66 A321-200s and 36 A321-200neos, with another 54 of the neos on order. Adding to its narrowbody capacity are 27 Boeing B737 MAX 8s and 92 B737-800s.
SWISS is adding more short-haul services to Ljubljana, going to nine flights a week this winter. Photo: SWISS
SWISS is also adding two new services from Zurich Airport (ZRH), increasing to nine weekly flights from October 30. The new services will be on Monday and Friday, adding to the existing daily flight between Ljubljana and Zurich. Lufthansa Group airlines have been loyal operators to the region, and Brussels Airlines will maintain its schedule with what it has flown this summer. The Belgium-based airline will run Airbus A319 flights each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, whereas last winter, it operated the route twice weekly during winter. Brussels Airlines has a fleet of 15 A319-100s and 17 A320-200, both types with an average age of more than 17 years. The only other type it operates is the A330-300, with three in the fleet.
Air Serbia is going to double daily services to Ljubljana this winter. Photo: Air Serbia
Air Serbia, whose main hub is at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG), currently has twelve weekly services to Ljubljana, and from the start of winter, that will increase to double daily frequency.
Routes to Egypt and the UAE
Egyptian airline Air Cairo is launching a once-weekly rotation from Hurghada International Airport (HRG), Egypt’s second busiest airport after Cairo and the gateway to the popular Red Sea coast. The flight will operate as Hurghada to Ljubljana via Skopje, although the inbound rotation will operate nonstop.
flydubai has an all-Boeing B737 fleet, including the B737-800 and B737 MAX versions. Photo: flydubai
There is more good news from the Middle East, with United Arab Emirates airline flydubai building on its success since launching flights to Slovenia twelve months ago. On December 22, the airline will launch daily flights with that frequency scheduled to run throughout the summer of 2023. Until the switch to daily services, flydubai will maintain between three and five weekly flights to Ljubljana from Dubai.
With these airlines adding more winter capacity, has Slovenia lost its title as Europe’s worst performing aviation market?