|Macedonia makes progress on national airline project|
The Director General of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency (CAA), Dejan Mojsoski, says plans to create a new national carrier, six years following the demise of MAT Macedonian Airlines, are on track and are advancing. Last week, a tender to find a consultancy firm willing to seek out potential foreign partners to assist in creating the country's new national airline came to an end. Mr. Mojsoski believes a flag carrier is “Macedonia’s missing link”. “We have modern airports, aviation authorities, professional air traffic control, but we don’t have a national airline. Its creation will be a challenging task, but if set up on sound foundations, and in line with necessary standards, Macedonia will reap huge benefits”.
The CAA recently requested for amendments to be made to the National Aviation Strategy, in order to include the creation of a new flag carrier. “As a result, we will be able to build an aviation industry, generate new jobs, boost our GDP and improve economic ties. Finally, a significant number of our aviation professionals working abroad will be able to return home”, Mr. Mojsoski says. The company which will be granted a license to operate as Macedonia’s national carrier will have to have at least 51% of Macedonian capital and at least one aircraft registered in the country, either owned or leased. The Turkish TAV Airports Holding, which runs both of Macedonia’s international airports, said the country is in need of a national carrier in order to develop its aviation industry. The Macedonian government has said subsidised issued to low cost airlines, such as Wizz Air, for their flights out of the country, will be maintained despite the launch of a new national airline. Wizz Air carried 40% of all commercial passengers to and from Macedonia.
The CAA also believes a local flag carrier will bring significant growth to Skopje Airport. “If current trends continue, then we can expect Skopje Airport to handle two million passengers in 2017 or 2018. Passenger growth intensified in 2010 and over the past five years, numbers have increased 66%. Skopje Airport has the capacity to handle three million passengers per year, and estimates show that by 2020, it could operate within its optimum capacity”, the head of the CAA says. Skopje Airport recorded one of the biggest passenger growth rates in Europe out of all the other capital cities on the continent and its busiest year on record in 2014. It handled 1.120.870 passengers during the first eleven months, up 21%. Over the past twenty years, Macedonia has had two national carriers, both of which subsequently declared bankruptcy.