Former Etihad boss talks to Slovenian government
Former Chairman and CEO of Etihad Aviation Group James Hogan and former Serbian Minister of Finance and Economy Mladjan Dinkić spoke with the Slovenian Ministry of Infrastructure, according to the daily “Danas”. The duo have reportedly discussed potential solutions to Slovenia’s lack of air connectivity, which has been a persistent problem since the country’s former national carrier, Adria Airways, declared bankruptcy in late September 2019. Mr Hogan is acting as founder and Executive Chairman of the consultancy firm Knighthood Capital, while Mr. Dinkić, who was instrumental in the takeover of Jat Airways by Etihad and its subsequent rebranding to Air Serbia, is now Managing Partner of MD Solution, based in Belgrade.
Discussions with the Ministry of Infrastructure, responsible for the Slovenian aviation sector, took place on Tuesday. According to the daily, the talks were conducted by the Secretary of State for Aviation. The ministry has also previously held talks with LOT Polish Airlines, Air Serbia and Croatia Airlines in an effort to overcome the country’s poor air connectivity, which has been made even worse by the coronavirus pandemic. In the first seven months of the year, Ljubljana airport only reached 12% of its pre-pandemic traffic as of 2019. Plans to create a new national airline using the stimulus funds Union Covid-19 were dropped earlier this year amid bloc objections.
Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek said last month that the government was looking for ways to fill the void left by Adria. “If we want to have better air connectivity in Slovenia, we will have to do something in this sector and find a way forward to allow progress, in cooperation with a private actor. Currently we do not have a national carrier and air traffic is severely affected by the pandemic, ”said Počivalšek.