Another Mat ceases operationsEX-YU aviation news can reveal that Mat Airways, Macedonia’s largest airline, has suspended all services until further notice. Although it started operations only a year ago it seems the airline could have the same fate as its predecessor MAT Macedonian Airlines. Mat Airways is owned by Serbia’s largest tour operator – Kon Tiki Travel. However, the Belgrade based company has been experiencing financial difficulty of its own and wants to concentrate on its core business in Serbia rather than finance an airline in Macedonia.
Mat Airways’ Boeing 737-500 operated its last service on June 20 and has been grounded ever since. Macedonia’s other charter airline, Skywings International, which tied up with Mat due to both financial problems and problems with the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency has managed to restart its own flights, offering services from Sarajevo to Dusseldorf with its Boeing 737-300. Mat managed to restart operations to most destinations once served by MAT Macedonian Airlines. Only 2 days after it ceased flights on June 20 it was to commence flights from Ohrid to Tel Aviv in Israel. The airline has not officially commented on the suspension of flights. Only several days ago Mat’s CEO said that the airline would commence scheduled flights from Skopje in September.
Macedonia hasn’t had much success with its own airlines. The country’s first national carrier ceased operations in 1996 after 5 years in service due to fledgling passenger numbers and finances. A new airline, MAT Macedonian Airlines, was set up in 1994 and became the country’s flag carrier in 2000. It suffered financial problems and due to building debt was banned from landing at several key airports. In 2009 the Civil Aviation Agency grounded the airline’s single aircraft due to safety concerns although politics and corruption is said to have been involved in the airline’s grounding.
Nevertheless, it’s the end of another Mat for now. The difference this time being that those travelling from Skopje and Ohrid have a much wider array of airlines to choose from.