|New low cost flights to Skopje by July 1, 2015|
The Macedonian government launched international tender procedures on Thursday to provide financial assistance to a European budget carrier willing to open a base at Skopje Alexander the Great Airport and launch at least four new routes by July 1, 2015. Airlines applying for state subsidies, which will run for three years, must have achieved a profit of at least 25 million euros and carried over ten million passengers in 2013. Only a handful of airlines meet these requirements and they include Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Pegasus Airlines and Wizz Air. The winning airline will have to launch at least four new routes by next summer from Skopje to continental Europe, Spain and Scandinavia, as well as one new destination from Ohrid. Furthermore, it will also have to base an aircraft in the Macedonian capital. All of the newly launched destinations must be served at least twice per week throughout the year and cannot have been operated by any other airline over the past two years.
The financial support includes a lump sum of 40.000 euros for each new destination launched and an additional thirteen euros for each departing passenger in the first year of operations, twelve euros in the second and eleven euros in the third year of operations. According to the Macedonian Ministry for Transport and Communication, the airline which offers the greatest number of new routes will be selected. No frill carriers have until December 26 to submit their bids. “Financial support is being provided in order to cater for the rapid development in air transport”, the ministry says. It adds, “Competative and affordable prices result in more available direct flights for Macedonian citizens”.
Skopje Airport has already overtaken last year’s passenger numbers and has registered its busiest year on record. The fresh subsidies and new routes will help insure even further traffic and passenger growth in 2015. “We will again provide subsidies 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 Macedonian Minister for Transport and Communication, Mile Janakieski, says. Last year, low cost airlines handled 440.127 passengers to and from Skopje Airport, a massive increase of 240% compared to the year before.