Macedonia hopes to attract more low cost airlines with incentive scheme
The Macedonian government will this year offer new subsidies for low cost airlines in order for them to launch flights to the country or increase frequencies on existing services. The news comes two years after the government first launched its subsidy program. Back then it offered 1.4 million euros for low fare carriers to set up services to and from Skopje, a move which proved successful as Wizz Air opened a base in the Macedonian capital shortly after and is now the country’s busiest airline. This time around the government will be upping the stakes, offering 4.9 million euros in subsidies. Airlines will be offered a one-off 40.000 euro cash injection for each new route launched for the first six destinations. Each subsequent route launch will receive a 30.000 euro subsidy from the government.
Airlines signing up to the new subsidy scheme will also be rewarded for the number of passenger they carry. The government will subsidies carriers for each passenger flown with nine euros in the first year of operations, eight euros in the second year and seven in the third. As the new incentive scheme is initiated, unconfirmed reports state a low cost airline is planning to launch three new routes to the Macedonian capital with easyJet being tipped as a possible contender. The head of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency, Dejan Mojsoski, says, “Interest from airlines to operate flights to Macedonia is growing, which indicates we are on the right path to creating a fast, efficient, safe and reliable air transport network, accessible to the general public”.
Only last week Pristina Airport revealed its own incentive scheme for airlines, which is to come into effect this Sunday. Macedonia’s two international airports are anticipating a busy 2014 summer season with more flights and destinations than last year. A total of fourteen airlines will operate scheduled flights to Skopje Alexander the Great Airport while four airlines, mostly from Turkey, will run summer charters. Belgium’s Jetairfly will resume its seasonal flights from Brussels to Ohrid from May 11, while the Macedonian lakeside town will also see Arkefly operate charters from Amsterdam starting May 12 and Corendon Airlines with flights from Antalya launching on June 17.