|Carriers give Ohrid - London flights the cold shoulder|
Not a single airline has applied to operate subsidised flights between the Macedonian lakeside city of Ohrid and London. Earlier last month, local authorities in Ohrid announced they would provide subsidies for a two weekly seasonal summer service from St. Paul the Apostle Airport to the British capital starting from 2014 through to 2016. A public tender was launched for airlines to apply for the new subsidised service, with the city Mayor regarding Wizz Air as a front runner at the time. However, local authorities were unavailable for comment to explain as to how the planned route failed to garner any interest from airlines.
Flights to the British capital were to run from June 15 to September 15. The Anti Corruption Commission gave the green light for the new service to be subsidised, on a similar basis as to the subsidised flights operating out of Skopje. Some 9.600 passengers were expected to use the service each year. However, authorities have been criticised for selecting to fund flights to London, out of all the possible destinations in Europe. There are few English tourists visiting Ohrid and a very small number of people from south-western Macedonia and eastern Albania reside in London. The tender also came late as any potential operator would have just over two weeks to put tickets on sale and promote the new service.
Tour agents in Ohrid believe grants should have been offered for more sustainable and profitable routes such as Istanbul. “It is a poor effort that Macedonia has been unable to open a single new route out of Ohrid for the past three years”, Dončo Taneski, the President of the Macedonian Hotel Association says. He adds that 70% of tourists visiting the lakeside city still use Skopje Airport. Authorities have said they will resume tender procedures soon, staying put with the Ohrid - Lodnon route.