|Skopje Airport sees record numbers as government boosts subsidies|
Skopje Alexander the Great Airport is poised to handle its millionth passenger for the year within days following strong September growth. As a result, the airport will surpass the million mark for the first time in fourteen years. The only time Skopje has managed to handle more than a million passengers was in 2000 when it saw 1.000.200 travellers pass through its doors. In September, the airport handled 115.794 passengers, an increase of 21.6% compared to the same period last year. Over the past nine months it welcomed 926.495 travellers, up 21% on 2013, affirming its position as one of the fastest growing capital city airports in Europe.
Meanwhile, following a recent announcement it would extend financial support for low cost airlines into 2015, the Macedonian government has now said it will offer fresh subsidies which will target specific markets. The measure looks to boost visitors from the region travelling by plane. The Macedonian government plans to offer subsidies to tour operators focusing on visitors coming from neighbouring Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as long as they come by plane and stay for at least a week. Between 25 and 35 euros will be offered per person. “We have established that there is a lot more space to increase visitor numbers from these three particular countries”, a government spokesperson, Aleksandar Gjorgiev, said.
The new measure will also help fill planes to Skopje. Air Serbia currently operates daily flights from Belgrade into the Macedonian capital, with a second daily flight operated during the summer season. Together with visitors from Turkey, the Netherlands, Greece and Poland, Serbs were the second most frequent tourists arriving into Macedonia this year. On the other hand, there are currently no flights between Bosnia and Macedonia, however, B&H Airlines is considering launching flights from Sarajevo to Skopje via Podgorica. The boost in subsidies is part of a wider plan to increase income from tourism. From the start of 2015, subsidies to the amount of 65 euros per tourist will be offered for arrivals from Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.