|Skopje Airport closing in on Pristina|
Skopje Alexander the Great Airport has seen its passenger numbers soar in April as Wizz Air commenced a handful of new routes and based a second aircraft in the city. Macedonia’s busiest airport welcomed 105.596 passengers during the month, an increase of 42% compared to April 2013’s 74.381 travellers. Wizz Air was the greatest contributor as it launched flights to Hahn, Charleroi, Beauvais and Cologne. The low cost airline itself saw passenger numbers skyrocket by 113% on its Skopje flights compared to April last year. With Ohrid added to the equation, Macedonia’s two international airports welcomed 107.036 passengers last month, up 40%.
In the first four months of the year, Skopje Airport has handled 309.770 travellers, an improvement of 19.1% on 2013. Macedonia is looking to attract even more budget airlines by offering fresh subsidies. This time around the government will stimulate carriers to the tune of 4.9 million euros. 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. easyJet is believed to be interested in launching flights to the Macedonian capital under these conditions.
Meanwhile, it is somewhat of a different story in Pristina. Once a star performer in the region, Pristina Airport has seen its numbers decline in the first quarter as it continues to feel the effects of Belle Air Europe’s collapse. The airline declared bankruptcy last December. Without its busiest customer, Pristina Airport saw 271.000 passengers pass through its doors during the first three months, a decrease of 22.2% on the same period last year. In addition, the airport saw a 26% decline in the number of flight operations. Pristina is hoping to offset the effects of Belle Air Europe’s departure with the launch of its own subsidy scheme which came into effect on March 30.
On the other hand, Sarajevo Airport has ended its sixteen month run of consecutive passenger growth. The airport saw its figures inch down in April by 0.5% as it handled 56.611 passengers (just 307 less than last year). The numbers came despite a 1% increase in the number of flight operations. During the month, Germanwings launched flights from Berlin. Overall, Sarajevo Airport has welcomed 173.949 travellers through its doors so far this year, an increase of 5.2%.