Slovenia’s prime minister has hinted at a possible new carrier to replace Adria Airways, while refusing to offer financial support to the troubled airline as long as it remains under its current ownership.

Adria Airways is aiming to restore some of its depleted network on 30 September, having spent much of the last few days only operating its Frankfurt service.

“All eyes are on the Slovenian government with the expectation that it will save the company,” says prime minister Marjan Sarec.

But he insists that the state will not give financial assistance to the company “under any circumstances” while it retains its present owners because, he believes, “they would throw money away” – although he points out that legislation would prevent such aid in any case.

Slovenia’s government has previously provided support to the carrier which was privatised three years ago when it was sold to a German investment fund.

Sarec, speaking through his official social media feed, says he will not comment on whether the sale was appropriate.

“Crying won’t help us much,” he says. “[Adria] was sold because it was in bad shape. It was screwed up long ago.”

While he claims that the Adria situation suggests the country is viewed as a “dairy cow, from which it is necessary to squeeze the last cent”, Sarec says the government is looking as options for the future.

It has not reached any decision but Sarec indicates that the possibilities include “setting up a new company” or “providing connectivity with other carriers”.

“Although we expect difficulties, the aim is to maintain Slovenia’s connection with the world, especially for tourism,” he says, adding that the country is due to take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2021.

Slovenian social democrat party SD senior representative Matjaz Han has argued that the government must immediately rescue Adria Airways.

“The existing owner does not trust us,” he says. “So we oppose solutions that maintain the current ownership of the company. Adria therefore needs a new owner immediately.”

Han claims that this is the only step which allows further measures to be taken to rescue the company, and maintain Slovenian links with key destinations.