|Macedonian government negotiating flights with high profile low cost carrier|
The Macedonian government is in talks with low cost airlines to launch additional flights to both Skopje and Ohrid. According to the Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, the country has entered negations with “one of the most prominent low cost airlines in the world”, believed to be Ryanair, which is eyeing services to Macedonia’s two international airports. The government is willing to offer subsidies and incentives to the low cost carrier, similar to the ones provided to Wizz Air, which saw it open a base in Skopje and launch services to Ohrid as well. “We are negotiating with one of the most prominent low cost airlines in the world to launch a range of services which will connect Skopje and Ohrid with various destinations in Europe and beyond”, the Prime Minister said.
Ryanair has a limited presence in the former Yugoslavia but has been on the lookout for new routes in the region over the past years. The no frills carrier has a seasonal summer base in Zadar. It also flies to Rijeka, Osijek and Pula in Croatia, as well as Podgorica in Montenegro. Two weeks ago it announced it would upgrade its seasonal service from Charleroi Airport to the Montenegrin capital to year-round operations. In 2007 Ryanair launched flights to Maribor, however, the service was cancelled due to poor loads after only a few months. Last October, the airline confirmed it had entered talks with Mostar Airport regarding the possible launch of flights from Germany and Scandinavia. However, in the end, these services never materialised.
Unlike its low cost rival, easyJet has ruled out services to Skopje in the near future. In an interview given to EX-YU Aviation News earlier this year, the airline said it would maintain a limited presence in the region for the time being and would focus primarily on Croatia. The Macedonian government is confident it will attract more tourists by subsiding low cost airlines. Last week, Wizz Air launched five new routes from Skopje and based its third aircraft in the city. As a result, Macedonia’s busiest airport anticipates for passenger growth to reach 25% this year. The Macedonian government has also said it is considering the creation of a new national carrier. 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 Civil Aviation Directorate next month. The report will determine whether any reputable global carrier is interested in partnering up with the Macedonian government in order to create the new airline.