|London - Ohrid flights to launch in July|
The Mayor of Ohrid, Nikola Bakračeski, has confirmed that an airline has been selected to operate subsidised flights between London and Ohrid’s St. Paul the Apostle Airport this summer. While the name of the carrier has not been disclosed yet, budget airline Wizz Air is believed to have made an agreement with local authorities to run the service. Flights from London Luton Airport to the lakeside Macedonian town are set to launch on July 1 and operate twice per week. Earlier this month, Wizz Air announced it would introduce two weekly flights from Basel to Ohrid on July 1 as well. That service will be subsidised over the next three years by the Macedonian government.
Last year, the Municipality of Ohrid offered subsidies on the London - Ohrid route through an international tender, with Mayor Bakračeski singling out Wizz Air as a front runner to operate the service. However, there was no interest from any carrier. At the time, authorities were criticised for selecting to fund flights to London, out of all the possible destinations in Europe. There are few English tourists visiting Ohrid and a small number of people from south-western Macedonia and eastern Albania reside in the British capital. The tender also came late as any potential operator would have had just over two weeks to put tickets on sale and promote the new service.
St. Paul the Apostle Airport handles the bulk of its passengers during the summer months, with 70% of travellers who visit Ohrid still using Skopje Airport instead. Zurich-based Helvetic Airways is the only airline operating year long flights to the lakeside town. Local authorities estimate that some 9.600 passengers will use the London service each year. Tour operators in Ohrid believe that grants should have been offered for more sustainable and profitable routes such as Istanbul. However, on Friday, Mr. Bakrečski said that three weekly flights to Turkey’s largest city are likely to be launched soon.