As I mentioned in “Why A320 cockpit” post, local charter airline Inex-Adria Aviopromet, started commercial restructuring programe in 1983 – 1986. In doing so it also changed its name to Adria Airways and started modernising its fleet. For this purpose, they ordered five new A320 aircraft at Airbus Industrie with additional option for three more. It was also discussed they could be launch customer for the type.
Found the news in FLIGHT international magazine December 31, 1983 (Flightglobal archive).
On May 18, 1989 the first aircraft, serial number 43, was flown from Toulouse factory at 12:43 to Ljubljana airport. The Airbus A320-231, with registration YU-AOA, later with Slovenian registration S5-AAA, arrived to home airport at 13:58. Bad weather at the time did not turn back a few thousand people who gathered at the airport to see the arrival and landing of this anticipated state of the art Airbus passenger plane.
This was important milestone for Slovenian carrier as A320 was undoubtedly most modern passenger airplane by date in the category of 150 seat aircraft and led Adria Airways for the third millennium.
Slovenes and all the employees of Adria were very proud that Adria Airways was among the first customers and users of Airbus A320. Adria was also the first airline in the world to fly with A320 powered by V2500 engines manufactured by International Aero Engines (IAE). This was also the first Airbus registered in Yugoslavia.
Adria’s new flagship had 168 seats and made its first commercial flight on May 22, 1989 on Ljubljana-Belgrade-Larnaca Cyprus line. In the first year of flying, Adria flew 2,657 hours and carried 138,000 passengers with this plane. They also made the longest flight recorded in December 1989 on a flight from Seychelles to Athens, when it was in the air for 7 hours and 40 minutes and ran past the distance 5750 km. With this flight a new record was set for the longest flight with A320 at that time.
Later, on September 11, 1990 two more A320 planes joined the fleet, MSN 113 registered YU-AOD (later S5-AAB) and MSN 114 registered YU-AOE (later S5-AAC). These three A320 buses became Adria’s workhorses. Due to Yugoslavia breaking up and the market uncertainty (tourist charters to Adriatic coast) last two planes, expected to arrive in June 1991, were never delivered.
After 22 years of hard work the day came and Alpha (S5-AAA) made its last farewell flight with Adria Airways on September 11, 2010 on line JP705 from Tirana to Ljubljana.
Plane was stored and later sold for parts and scrapping on December 27, 2012. Many thought this plane should be treated as a part of technical heritage and go to a museum. Sure, that would be great but you know how things work “When money talks bullshit walks” and we need aviation museum first!
This aircraft will always have a special place in the hearts of Adria employees and Slovenian aviation enthusiasts.From the first three Adria buses only one, ex S5-AAB (MSN 113), remains active with Danish Air Transport as OY-LHD. A third one S5-AAC (MSN 114) also had an interesting story as it got damaged in airstrike during war for independence.