US and Macedonia in Open Skies dealThe United States and Macedonia ratified an Open Skies air services agreement that will formalise the liberalisation of their bilateral aviation relationship. US Deputy Assistant Secretary, Philip Reeker, and the Macedonian Minister for Transport, Mile Janakieski, signed the pact in Skopje on Thursday. The Agreement will enter into force in thirty days. The Open Skies agreements permits unrestricted air service by the airlines of both countries between and beyond the other's territory, eliminating restrictions on how often the carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use and the prices they charge.
In a press release the US State Department said, "This agreement will strengthen and expand our strong trade and tourism links with Macedonia, benefiting US and Macedonian businesses and travellers by expanding opportunities for air services and encouraging vigorous price competition by airlines, while preserving our commitments to aviation safety and security”. With bureaucracy out of the way, Skopje Airport hopes to attract an airline to operate direct flights between the two countries. Janakieski says he will lobby airlines and point out the advantages of direct flights.
However, services between Macedonia and the United States are highly unlikely at this point in time. Experts note that the market is not big enough to maintain year long scheduled flights between the two countries. Services between cities in the United States and Skopje would be highly seasonal, catering almost exclusively for the Macedonian diaspora living in the states. Priština was the last city to have direct flights with to the United States in the former Yugoslavia, back in 2006.