|Macedonian airports anticipate busy 2015|
Macedonia’s two international airports, Skopje and Ohrid, are set to see the launch of several new routes and the arrival of new airlines next year following a record breaking 2014. Skopje Alexander the Great Airport is working on establishing links to Spain, Norway and several other European countries by mid 2015. “We are looking at adding four new destinations from Skopje, including flights to Spain and Norway, as well as new destinations from Ohrid”, the Macedonian Minister for Transport and Communication, Mile Janakieski, says. “We will again provide subsidies for these routes to the amount of five million euros over the next three years. This should result in more flights and better options for travellers, and at the same time increase passenger numbers”, the minister adds.
Besides flights to Spain and Norway, Skopje Airport also expects to see new services to Germany, Switzerland and Russia next year. On Monday, Swiss International Air Lines announced it would inaugurate flights from Geneva to Skopje during the summer. Zoran Kristeski, the head of TAV Macedonia, which runs the country’s two international airports, says, “TAV Macedonia took over operations at Skopje and Ohrid in 2010. Since then, traffic has increased significantly, from 560.000 to 1.2 million passengers. We plan to keep charter flights operating out of Ohrid, and, as a result, encourage tourists to come to Macedonia. However, we are also anticipating the launch of four new scheduled flights”. He adds, “We are looking at establishing services from Ohrid to Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom”. Earlier this year, airlines expressed no interest to operate two weekly subsidised flights between Ohrid and London. The service was meant to run on a seasonal summer basis until 2016. Local authorities launched a public tender for airlines to apply for the new subsidised service.
Skopje Airport has already overtaken last year’s passenger numbers and has registered its busiest year on record. In October alone it handled 107.517 passengers, an impressive 21.2% increase compared to the same month last year. Overall, the airport has welcomed 1.034.013 travellers through its doors so far this year, up 21%. “This is tremendous growth, especially when compared to other European countries where the average passenger increase stands between five and eight percent”, Alper Tunga Ersoy, TAV Macedonia’s Deputy General Manager, says. He adds, “Skopje Airport should handle 1.2 million passengers by the end of the year”.