|Ryanair plans Skopje flights|
Europe’s busiest airline, Ryanair, has confirmed to EX-YU Aviation News its intention to launch flights to Skopje. It comes after the country’s Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, said last week that the government has entered negations with “one of the most prominent low cost airlines in the world”. Ryanair’s Head of Communications, Robyn Kiely, told EX-YU Aviation News, “We are currently speaking to the Macedonian government about potential Skopje routes”. 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. Ryanair is believed to be negotiating not just one but a range of services from the Macedonian capital.
Within the former Yugoslavia, Ryanair operates year-round services only to Podgorica, while all of its routes to Croatia, including its base in Zadar, are run during the summer only. Mr Kiely says the airline is satisfied with its performance in the region. “We are very pleased with our Podgorica operations, which continue to perform strongly”, he notes. Last month the carrier announced it would upgrade its seasonal service from Charleroi Airport to the Montenegrin capital to year-round operations, complementing its existing summer and winter flights from London Stansted Airport.
Ryanair’s arrival in Macedonia will mark another important milestone for Skopje Alexander the Great Airport which is quickly becoming the former Yugoslavia’s low cost hub, offering cheap flights throughout the year. In June, the airport handled 118.070 passengers, up 1.5% compared to the same month last year, with the number of flight operations unchanged. Skopje is expected to boom during July, with Wizz Air recently launching flights to Friedrischshafen, Sandefjord, Barcelona, Lubeck and Nuremberg. During the first half of the year, Skopje welcomed 608.721 travellers through its doors, an increase of 13.8% on last year. In 2014, Skopje Airport added almost 224.000 passengers and recorded growth in excess of 22%. It is expected to replicate this success in 2015, with growth estimated at 25% by year’s end.