May 11, 2020 / 8:39 PM / 19 days ago

Slovenia to allow passenger air traffic from Tuesday

LJUBLJANA, May 11 (Reuters) - Slovenia will allow international passenger air traffic from Tuesday after it has been suspended for eight weeks due to the coronavirus epidemic, the government said late on Monday.

“The prohibition of international air flights from the EU area and from other countries to Slovenian international public airports is no longer needed,” the government said in a statement.

It added a number of measures in the airline sector have been taken over the past weeks to protect public health.

Slovenia has so far reported 1,460 coronavirus cases and 102 deaths.

Fraport Slovenia, a company which operates Slovenia’s largest airport Ljubljana and is owned by Germany’s Fraport AG Frankfurt, welcomed the decision but said most air carriers had cancelled flights to and from Ljubljana until the end of May.

“Regardless of that we have in the past days ... set everything needed to safely restart passenger traffic,” Fraport said in a separate statement.

Before the coronavirus lockdown, the Ljubljana airport connected Slovenia to a number of mostly European destinations. Cargo traffic has not been prohibited.

The government said planes from abroad will not be able to land at Slovenia’s smaller local airports until June 12.

From the middle of March Slovenia closed all schools, bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, apart from food and drug stores, and cancelled public transport. It also introduced a seven-day obligatory quarantine for most people entering the country.

It started lifting restrictions on April 20, when a number of shops reopened, while public transport resumed earlier on Monday. Some pupils are expected to return to schools on May 18.

As a result of the lockdown Slovenia’s tourism, which makes up some 12% of the country’s GDP, slumped in March with arrivals of foreign tourists down by 78.1% year-on-year, the statistics office said last month.

The government expects GDP to fall by at least 8.1% this year after it increased by 2.4% in 2019. (Reporting By Marja Novak Editing by Alistair Bell)

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