|Macedonia to complete search for national airline partner this summer|
The newly appointed head of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency (CAA), Goran Jandreoski, says plans to create a new national carrier, six years on from the demise of MAT Macedonian Airlines, are advancing and on schedule. A consultancy firm hired to seek out potential foreign partners to assist in creating the country's new national airline will deliver its findings to the CAA in August. The report will determine whether any reputable global carrier is interested in partnering up with the Macedonian government in order to create a new airline. Mr. Jandreoski believes a new national carrier will further develop the country’s aviation sector and enhance Macedonia’s socio-economic development. According to the head of the CAA, Macedonia has 63 registered commercial pilots, most of whom work outside the country but are ready to return home, as well as a further 74 technical personnel. The Macedonian government revealed plans for a new flag carrier last year.
The country’s new national airline will have to comprise of at least 51% of Macedonian capital and at least one aircraft registered in the country, either owned or leased. The government has said subsidies issued to low cost airlines, such as Wizz Air, for its 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 last year. Regardless of the project’s outcome, Mr. Jandreoski is confident Skopje will offer transatlantic flights within three to four years. However, he warns that the establishment of such flights is complicated and will depend on various factors, primarily safety and security issues.
The Turkish TAV Airports Holding, which runs both of Macedonia’s international airports, has previously said the country is in need of a national carrier which will help develop its aviation industry. “TAV wants to compete with airports in neighbouring countries and attract foreign airlines. If you do not have a national carrier, then you miss out on the opportunity to attract airlines from other countries. This is because of commitments outlined in bilateral agreements. We are trying to attract foreign airlines to Macedonia and establish a national carrier, otherwise air traffic in the country will stall”, the airport operator said. It added, “What is lacking is a national airline. ‘Macedonian Airlines’ must be established. We have invested in airports and Macedonia should invest in its own carrier”. Turkish Airlines has been tipped as a frontrunner in partnering up with the Macedonian government to establish a new national carrier. Over the past twenty years, Macedonia has had two national airlines, both of which subsequently declared bankruptcy.