|Macedonia to invite foreign airline to become its new national carrier|
Five years after the demise of MAT Macedonian Airlines, the Macedonian government has agreed to invite an established foreign airline to become the country’s new flag carrier. On Tuesday night, the Macedonian government adopted plans to first examine interest by foreign carriers to effectively become Macedonia’s leading airline. Similar plans were made several years ago when it was suggested Turkish Airlines could become the country’s national carrier. “In collaboration with a consultancy firm, which will handle the process, the first step will be to survey the market and test the interest of world famous companies to set up base in Macedonia”, Mile Janakieski, the Minister for Transport and Communication, said. He added, “It is necessary for the government to list all it can offer to a foreign partner, including subsidies. Once the analysis is completed and the conditions are set, we will offer them to several well established airlines”.
Last month, TAV Airports Holding, which runs both of Macedonia’s international airports, said the country is in need of a national carrier which will help develop its aviation industry. “What is lacking is a national airline. ”Macedonian Airlines" must be established. We have invested in airports and Macedonia should invest in its own carrier. Every country should have an airline. I'm sure it will happen soon and, with it, the number of passengers will rise significantly”, the co-founder and CEO of Turkey’s TAV Airports Holding, Sani Sener, said. Wizz Air is currently Macedonia’s busiest airline. The no frills carrier set up base in Skopje as a result of generous subsidies offered by the government. Last year, almost half of all passengers using the airport travelled with low cost airlines, a rise of 200% on the year before.
Currently, the Macedonian government offers 40.000 euros for each new destination launched by low cost airlines and pays a further seven to nine euro for each ticket purchased on these new flights. “This year, we plan to spend 4.9 million euros on subsidies for new flights. We plan to keep this policy as data show it has produced significant results in the short timeframe since it was introduced”, the Ministry for Transport and Communication said. The government is now looking to maintain the massive passenger growth achieved over the last year, through the establishment of a national airline. Over the past twenty years, Macedonia had two national carriers, both of which subsequently declared bankruptcy.