|Macedonia steps up efforts to establish national carrier|
Plans to set up a Macedonian national airline have progressed after the country’s aviation authorities met in Skopje to finalise the government-backed project. The Ministry of Transport and Communication, as well as the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency (CAA), held talks with representatives from bus and freight transport companies to discuss how the new airline will affect their operations. In addition, the authorities expressed hope that the new national carrier will boost tourism and lead to the further development of air transport in the country. Dejan Mojsoski, head of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency, said, “The benefits of establishing a national carrier are significant, not only for Macedonian aviation, but also for our socio-economic outlook”. According to Mr. Mojsoski, the national airline will generate jobs, GDP growth and link the country with new destinations, which will boost its economic ties and, as a result, raise Macedonia’s image around the world.
The head of the CAA highlighted that Macedonia will have a majority stake in its new flag carrier. “Our commitment is to bring more airlines to Macedonia, which is why we have undertaken measures to reduce administrative barriers and liberalise air transport in the country. The company which will be granted a license to operate as our national carrier will have to have at least 51% of Macedonian capital and have at least one aircraft registered in Macedonia, either owned or leased”, Mr. Mojsoski explains. He added that Macedonia has 63 registered commercial pilots, most of whom work outside the country but are ready to return home, as well as a further 74 technical personnel.
Earlier this summer, the Macedonian government announced plans to invite an established foreign airline to assist in creating the country’s new flag carrier. The Turkish 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”, TAV said. Turkish Airlines has been tipped as a frontrunner in partnering up with the Macedonian government to establish a new national carrier. On August 29, Macedonian and Turkish aviation authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the European Civil Aviation Conference in Dubrovnik. The MoU calls for the “strengthening of regional cooperation”. In addition, “The signing of the Memorandum with Turkish aviation authorities comes as a result of increased scheduled and charter traffic volume, as well as investments in the field of civil aviation”, Macedonia’s CAA said in a statement. Over the past twenty years, Macedonia has had two national carriers, both of which subsequently declared bankruptcy.