Slovenia's Adria Airways files for bankruptcy

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenian airline Adria Airways has filed for bankruptcy and canceled all flights, it said in a statement on Monday, after financial problems forced it to ground most of its planes over the last week.

“Bankruptcy proceedings were initiated by the management of the company because of the company’s insolvency,” Adria, which is owned by German investment firm 4K Invest, said.

Adria is the latest in a long line of small European airlines to run into financial trouble amid industry overcapacity, cut-throat competition and high fuel prices.

Since last Tuesday Adria has canceled more than 400 flights affecting more than 15,000 passengers.

Slovenia’s Economy Minister Zdravko Pocivalsek said earlier on Monday the government was considering establishing a new airline company to improve the country’s international connections. Adria’s collapse was very damaging to Slovenia’s economy and tourism industry, the minister said.

Officials were talking to Germany's Lufthansa LHAG.DE and Fraport FRAG.DE, which owns Ljubljana airport, about transferring half of Adria's flights, Pocivalsek said.

A Lufthansa spokesman said it was too early to say how Adria’s flights would be replaced in the long-term. Lufthansa is currently organizing flights to cover connections Adria was flying for the German group, either exclusively or via code share, he added.

Slovenia’s Civil Aviation Agency last week gave Adria until Oct. 2 to present a financial plan in order to keep its operating license.

Slovenia sold Adria to 4K Invest in 2016. The company has since sold all of its planes and has been flying to several European destinations on leased aircraft. According to TV Slovenia and other media, Adria has debt of around 90 million euros ($98.30 million).

Government officials have said European Union rules on state aid prevented the government helping Adria, adding it would also not help the company under its current ownership, which they called “irresponsible”.

Reporting by Marja Novak; additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; editing by Kirsten Donovan and Grant McCool