Slovenian start-up Express Airways plans May launch

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Slovenian flight training academy and aircraft parts trader Express Airways plans to start charter operations with two Airbus A320s this summer, as well as building up an aircraft storage business at its Maribor base.

The company wants to begin wet-lease and charter flights with an International Aero Engines V2500-powered A320 in May, says director Sefa Tuncer. The 1994-vintage aircraft (MSN 415) will be leased from Triton Aviation Ireland and is serviced through ILFC, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database.

A second A320 will be introduced in July. Although Express Airways has already identified an aircraft of interest, Tuncer says the deal needs to be finalised before further details can be released.

The route network for the twinjets is also not yet clear. But Tuncer says the company sees sufficient demand to deploy two to three narrowbodies straight away.

The inaugural routes will be determined over the coming weeks.

Noting the unfavourable economic climate in Europe, Tuncer does not expect the passenger flights to generate significant profits. The central objective, he says, is to demonstrate to leasing companies that Express Airways’ technical division can quickly return stored aircraft to serviceability due to its operational expertise as an airline.

Investors behind Express Air have submitted a bid to acquire Maribor airport - Slovenia's second largest gateway in the northeast of the country. They want to build a hangar and specialise in maintenance for stored aircraft.

Tuncer says that the in-house airline operation involves stored aircraft being kept under the company's air operator's certificate (AOC), thereby enabling a quick return to service. He adds that Express Airways has had enquiries from US lessors looking for storage locations in Europe to avoid transatlantic ferry flights.

Maribor airport could accommodate up to six stored narrowbodies.

Express Airways is not planning to move into the third-party MRO business. The two A320s will be maintained by Adria Tehnika at Ljubljana airport.

The company's ownership structure has not yet been finalised. Tuncer says a number of potential investors - including parties from Spain and Israel - are negotiating potential stakeholdings, having already been involved in the airport acquisition bid.

The company's shareholder structure will be determined by the end of March, he adds.