The Slovenian registered VLM Airlines plans to commence services this autumn after it secures an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) for its Belgian unit, website Ex-Yu aviation reports. SHS Aviation, the parent company of the Maribor-based VLM Airlines, said that despite receiving a Slovenian permit from the Ministry of Infrastructure on May 10, it is also seeking a licence from Belgian authorities for its subsidiary SHS Antwerp Aviation, which together with Slovenia’s VLM Airlines will commence joint scheduled flights under the common trading name “VLM Airlines”.
In a statement, the company said,
The delivery of the AOC for the Slovenian subsidiary does not mean that the Belgian AOC has become obsolete. The procedure for the Belgian permit remains ongoing despite the delivery of the Slovenian AOC, because both are essential for the implementation of our business plan. We hope to receive the AOC for SHS Antwerp Aviation as soon as possible.
According to local media, the carrier will commence flights from Maribor later this year with a handful of Fokker 50 aircraft. It is yet to be decided how many of the six turboprops will be divided between Maribor and Antwerp. Furthermore, the number of Airbus A319 jets to be stationed in Slovenia is yet to be determined. According to its initial plans, the airline intended to launch flights from Slovenia’s second largest city to Belgrade, Berlin, Hamburg, London, Podgorica, Split, Zurich, Xi’an, Chongqing and Nanchang this summer. However, the company now says that details regarding the number of aircraft to be used, planned routes and schedules will be announced at a later stage. Meanwhile, SHS Aviation acquired a stake in leisure carrier Thomas Cook Airways Belgium (TCAB) last month. It will take over certain contractual obligations, as well as forty of TCAB’s ground staff employees.
SHS Aviation purchased the “Aerodrom Maribor” operator for seven million euros in December 2016. The operator recently announced its results for last year, showing that its revenues dropped from 876.000 euros in 2015 to 700.000 euros in 2016. Nevertheless, it managed to reduce its losses to 36.000 euros from 280.000 over the previous year. The Mayor of Maribor, Andrej Fištravec, believes the city will become a global player and specialist for Asian travellers as a result of SHS’s ambitions to launch operations from Edvard Rusjan Airport. The company has also committed itself to investing millions into the airport.