Adria Airways Continues To Suspend Flights, Future Looks Bleak

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Update: Adria Airways has filed for bankruptcy.

On Monday Thomas Cook ceased operations, and on Tuesday another airline “temporarily” ceased operations.

Adria Airways Temporarily Ceased Operations

Adria Airways is a Star Alliance airline based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the airline has been having financial trouble for quite a long time.

This week their financial situation got so bad that they had to stop operating. On Monday Adria Airways announced that they had to “temporarily” suspended operations for September 24 & 25, 2019.

Adria Airways A319 cabin

Adria Airways advised passengers booked on Adria Airways to contact the company with which they booked their tickets.

As the airline explained:

Company is at this point intensively searching solutions in cooperation with potential investor. Goal of everyone involved is to make Adria Airways fly again according to the schedule and that ceasing of certain operations is indeed temporarily.

The company deeply regrets the situation and apologizes to all its passengers and partners.

Adria Airways Extends Suspended Operations

Adria Airways has now announced that they’ll continue to temporary cease a majority of their flights on Thursday, September 26, and Friday, September 27.

On both days the airline plans to operate evening roundtrip flights from Frankfurt to Ljubljana, but that’s it. That’s because Frankfurt is their most important gateway, given their partnership with Lufthansa.

Government Gives Adria Airways New Deadline

The Slovenian Civil Aviation Authority has not yet terminated Adria’s Air Operators Certificate (AOC). They’ve given them a deadline of October 2 to submit a proper restructuring plan, including how they will restore profitability. If they’re unable to do that, Adria’s AOC will be taken away, and they’ll be forced to permanently cease operations.

At this point a majority of Adria’s fleet has been repossessed, including all of their A319s and several of their CRJ-900s. At this point the airline has 10 planes remaining, including six CRJ-900s and four Saab 2000s.

What’s Going On At Adria Airways?

Adria Airways has been losing money for years, and most recently the management team has been quoted as saying that they need four million EUR to stay in business for now. The government has refused to bail the airline out, and it seems they haven’t been able to find any strategic investors.

The airline operated a fleet of about 20 planes, including A319s, CRJs, and Saab 2000s. However, many of these planes have been repossessed over lack of payments. For example, in the last few days alone, three CRJ-900s have been taken back by the owners.

It’s clear that Adria needs a radically different strategy, and a significant amount of funding If they’re going to survive. Four million EUR may keep them alive for a few more months, but it doesn’t solve their underlying problem.

Adria Airways CRJ-900

Adria’s Relationship With Lufthansa

Adria also has an interesting relationship with Lufthansa. While they’re not formally part of the Lufthansa Group (unlike Austrian and Swiss), they are in the Star Alliance, and they use Miles & More as their frequent flyer program. Lufthansa uses Adria for much of their service to Slovenia, so the airlines have a close relationship.

This would be a loss for Lufthansa as well, as Slovenia has long been a tricky market for them. It’s not high yield, and at the same time it’s not yet overrun with ultra low cost carriers. So if Adria goes out of business you can bet that ultra low cost carriers will gain a lot of market share there, and that’s not necessarily good for Lufthansa either.

Then again, it’s not like the current setup works either.

Lufthansa A320

Bottom Line

For the sake of Adria’s 500+ employees I hope they’re able to find funding and stay in business, though I have my doubts. The airline has been struggling for a long time, and short of a last minute government bailout or Lufthansa stepping in, Slovenia will be left without a national airline.

The fact that their AOC will be revoked if they can’t develop a business plan in the next week that will return them to profitability, let alone find funding that will allow that, makes this even more of a race against the clock.

Based on my experience flying with Adria earlier this year, I can’t say they impressed me much…

  1. Adria also operates (operated?) the SWISS route Zurich to Lugano (and maybe more?) so the LH group is definitely involved and impacted for sure. Hope Adria get on their feet but every 12-18 months there seems to be this wave of airlines going out of business all at once in Europe.

  2. Well between Thomas Cook, XL Airways, and Adria, it’s not a good week for European airlines. And Norwegian are on a lifeline until early November…

  3. “as Frankfurt is their most important connecting hub (as that feeds into the Lufthansa network).”

    They also feed traffic to Frankfurt and Munich from their bases in Tirana and Pritina too…

  4. I have a sneaking suspicion that Adria will become the latest addition to the Eurowings family…or, perhaps, could become a subsidiary carrier to Austrian, along the lines of Edelweiss at Swiss, or Eurowings at Lufthansa.

  5. As much as I hate to say it, I am not surprised. Adria’s prices are not competitive at all (it’s rare to find sub-200€ fares on these hour long flights). At least from MUC, I really don’t see that business travel demand (neither O&D nor connecting traffic) that could potentially make flights viable.

    You can get 60€ Rt train tickets (and upgrade to first for another 15-20 each way). As @Frederik already mentioned, road connections are very good too, so you could save even more going by bus, or just renting a car/using your own and driving there.

    Unless LH steps in (doubt they’ll rescue something that’s already dead), I wouldn’t count on seeing Adria operating beyond 2019.

  6. I am supposed to be taking an Adria Airways flight next week. I fly into Vienna on Austrian with a connection to Prague on Adria. I guess worst case I rent a car or hop on a train to get to prague though I wonder if I should start to look at other options since I booked this on points with United. Maybe look at Lufthansa or Swiss Air or something.

  7. Wow. With this and Thomas cook going bust, there must be an abundance of repossessed aircraft on the market at the moment

  8. @Jamie

    Yes and no.

    Keep in mind that it’s only the British part of Thomas Cook that is gone. Condor never stopped flying, the Scandinavian part of Thomas Cook had a stop of 1 day and is now back in the air.

    Together those 2 companies has close to half the Thomas Cook group air fleet.

    The UK part of the fleet was only 34 aircraft’s. It’s important to remember that Thomas Cook was an group rather than just one company.

    Most of Adria’s fleet was regional jets and a good number of them was on wet lease to other airlines that are now scrambling to find replacements.

    And finally the aircraft market was bone dry before this due to airlines scrambling to find replacements for the B737MAX and the B787 with RR engines.

    So to say that there will be an abundance of aircraft, repossessed or for sale in other ways is an overstatement.

  9. I booked on Austrian from VIE to BLQ for next week. That particular flight is operated by Adria. I called Austrian and they said it is operated by them but still shows Adria on their booking site. Should I rebook with another airline? Any suggestions?

  10. Last time I checked, Tirana was well served by OS (LHGroup). In any event, OS can quickly ramp up and do transfer traffic.

  11. Yes, it is served by Austrian as well as Lufthansa, though Lufthansa only offered flights to Frankfurt. And Edelweiss Air also offered flights to Zurich.

    Still, losing a couple of routes that provided direct feeder passengers for LHGroup isn’t a positive thing, even if the other airlines can add some transfer flights.

  12. Must be a lot of stupid people with money that keep funding these money losing airlines. Or a lot of money laundering going on.

    I stumbled across
    On 9/21:
    “Increasing operational difficulties due to lack of staff, unpaid invoices and late maintenance releases. Aircraft on verge of being impounded by leasing company “

  13. If you book *A from anywhere to LJU you will connect through FRA, MUC, ZRH or VIE and the sector to LJU will be on Adria. The fares from European departure points are astronomical and book into the top booking classes in C & Y so how Adria have not made money is a mystery.

    There is little low cost competition to LJU for some reason.

    I for one will be pleased to see the back of Adria, they are unreliable, expensive, offer a poor standard of service and their planes are worn out and certainly on the inside, leave a lot to be desired.

    The sooner they are gone and replaced by LH group mainline services the better or maybe there’s room for OU to step in, they struggle but at least offer decent and mostly reliable service. .

  14. @Ray – While on that call they could ask her husband for some advice about what to do when your airline goes bankrupt.

  15. Damn I’m flying fra to Pristina Oct 2 – 7. I booked it with chase and have already called in once to change the flight as they had canceled the Ljubljana to Pristina flight (now am flying direct fra to prn). Will give it to the weekend to cancel flights.

  16. Estonia’s Nordica is also canceling all scheduled flights and moving into wetleasing it’s planes, so we’ll see what happens there too…

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