Wires

UPDATE 2-Slovenia's Adria Airways grounds flights due to shortage of cash

Marja Novak

* Tuesday, Wednesday flights cancelled

* About 3,700 passengers affected

* Adria says seeking potential investor (Updates with ministry quote, Polish national team affected)

LJUBLJANA, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Slovenia's Adria Airways has cancelled almost all of its flights for Tuesday and Wednesday, potentially affecting around 3,700 passengers, because it has been unable to access cash to continue flying, it said on Tuesday.

"The company is at this point intensively searching for solutions in cooperation with a potential investor. The goal of everyone involved is to make Adria Airways fly again," it said in a statement.

Adria Airways is the latest in a long line of small European airlines to run into financial trouble amid industry overcapacity, cut-throat competition and high fuel prices.

Travel firm Thomas Cook collapsed this week, while Germania, Flybmi and Iceland's WOW have all failed this year. Regional operator Flybe's sale to a Virgin Atlantic-led consortium narrowly averted its collapse.

Adria said it would still operate a flight from Frankfurt to Ljubljana on Tuesday and a flight from Ljubljana to Frankfurt on Wednesday, saying Frankfurt was its "most important hub".

However, it has cancelled 158 regular and charter flights to and from Slovenia, Netherlands, Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Austria, Kosovo and Greece, affecting more than 3,700 passengers, Adria told Reuters.

Slovenia's economy ministry said Adria's problems would have a short-term impact on the country's economy, adding: "we expect that other carriers could in time fulfil the gap that could emerge after a possible bankruptcy of Adria Airways."

It also said in a statement that a thorough ownership, financial and business restructuring could help Adria to recover.

Slovenian officials have said Adria cannot receive state aid as that would be against European Union rules.

Among passengers stranded at airports were Poland's national male volleyball team, which is due to face the Slovenian team in a semi-final match of the European Championships in Ljubljana on Thursday.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter that a Polish government plane would fly the team to Ljubljana after its Adria flight from Amsterdam to Ljubljana was cancelled.

Slovenia sold Adria to German investment fund 4K Invest in 2016. Since then, the company has sold all its planes and has been using leased ones to fly to several European destinations.

"The company deeply regrets the situation and apologizes to all its passengers and partners," Adria added.

(Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)