MAT’s management doesn’t seem to be concerned by the new demands and says that the carrier will be flying again by the end of this week. The Boeing B737-500 should be arriving in Skopje within the following few days after more repairs were done to the aircraft’s front leg. Even though the aircraft was serviced and repaired free of charge in Belgrade a few weeks ago, the CAA did not recognise that the aircraft has been mended.
News is circulating that certain individuals within Macedonia, mainly affluent businessmen, are already setting up a new airline which would replace MAT. Some argue that all the actions undertaken by the CAA are aimed at destroying MAT and allowing a new carrier to be created. If MAT declares bankruptcy it would be the third national carrier from the EX-YU to do so, after Palair which was also the national carrier of Macedonia until its demise in 1996 and Air Bosna which was the national carrier of Bosnia and Herzegovina declaring bankruptcy in 2003. MAT’s status as the national carrier of Macedonia ends in 2010 according to an agreement between the Macedonian Government and MAT, signed in 2000. With the current situation it is unlikely that its flag carrier status would be extended.
Meanwhile, other foreign airlines are benefiting on the account of MAT’s troubles. Airlines are drastically increasing services to Skopje as passenger numbers rise. The latest airline to announce an increase in service is Turkish Airlines. The Turkish national carrier will increase services from Istanbul to Skopje from 5 to 7 weekly flights starting June 8.