To small European states, the evisceration of Cyprus’ economy to secure an EU bailout must have been terrifying, and those with parlous finances are desperate to avoid a similar fate.
Thus Slovenia is embarking on a wide-ranging privatisation programme, which will include the sales of flag-carrier Adria Airways and Jože Pučnik Airport in the capital Ljubljana.
In the wake of the financial crisis Slovenian GDP crashed more violently than even Greek or Portuguese output, though it did temporarily rebound before settling at growth of -2.3 per cent last year.
The country was undone by a rash a bad bank loans made after entry into the Eurozone, a fairly common occurrence among small economies joining the common currency.
One of these, Portugal, is also trying to divest state aviation assets – in its case to satisfy rather than avoid the conditions of a bailout – but is struggling to find a buyer for flag carrier TAP. In December, having attracted just one bidder, the government put the privatisation on ice and the loss-making airline now looks no closer to privatisation than when the IMF and the EU agreed Portugal’s bailout in 2011.
So if TAP with its enviable Europe-South America connections can’t find a buyer, what chance does Adria have?
Not much according to the Slovenia Times, which reports that the airline’s passenger numbers were down 15 per cent in 2012, while a similar fall was recorded at Jože Pučnik Airport.
If a buyer is to be found, Slovenia might look to Russia, its biggest growing passenger market, though Germany’s Air Berlin has been suggested as a suitor.
Privatisations of Slovenia’s airline and capital airport should begin in September, five years after another Balkan country put its flag carrier on the block. Serbia’s Jat Airways is still in state hands.