Austria considers withdrawing Air Alps' operating licence

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The future of Austrian regional carrier Air Alps remains uncertain as the country's transport ministry is evaluating whether to withdraw its operating licence.

The airline restarted its flights between Bozen and Rome last week after operations were suspended and the fleet ferried to the company's base in Innsbruck in mid-January.

Austria's federal transport ministry is evaluating whether to revoke Air Alps' operating licence, which is separate from the air operator's certificate (AOC).

Air Alps has until 13 February to demonstrate to the authorities that it will be a financially and commercially viable company for at least one year, a government spokesman told Flightglobal.

Meanwhile, Luis Durnwalder, governor of the autonomous region of South Tyrol, stated that his authority would not issue a certificate on the airline's reliability. Such approval would be necessary for the airline to retain its operating licence, he added.

"We can obviously not issue such a certificate given the events over the last days," he said.

Austria's transport ministry responded that such a document from a foreign authority would not have a direct influence on the ministry's decision on whether or not to revoke the operating licence.

Given that the flights between Bozen and Rome have been Air Alps' main activity, however, the moves by the South Tyrolean regional government could indirectly affect the airline's ability to prove its commercial viability.

Air Alps' new managing director, Oliver Ladurner, who took over from Sabine Mertens in January, met Durnwalder in Bozen on 7 February.

The proceedings to revoke the airline's operating licence are not a result of the temporarily suspended operations. The transport ministry spokesman said that the process had already begun in the autumn.

He added that Air Alps had not demonstrated its financial and commercial viability by 7 February.

Air Alps could not immediately be reached for comment.