|Wizz Air eyed for new Budapest - Skopje route|
Macedonia and Hungary plan to establish nonstop flights between their respective capital cities by the end of 2015, three years after the last scheduled service was operated between the two. Following talks in Skopje, the Hungarian Minister of State for Economic Diplomacy, Levente Magyar, said that plans for this year include launching direct flights between Budapest and the Macedonian capital as it currently takes some seven to eight hours to travel between the two cities. A direct air link would slash travel time to just ninety minutes. “Flights will facilitate the development of tourism, cooperation between enterprises and people to people exchanges”, Mr Magyar said. Hungary is currently the fifth largest investor in Macedonia.
The Hungarian-registered Wizz Air, which boasts an extensive network from Skopje and has its own base in the city, is most likely to operate the service, according to government officials. The Macedonian Economy Minister, Valon Saracini, said, “We discussed the opening of direct Wizz Air flights between Skopje and Budapest, as well as charter flights to cater for Hungary’s largest tour operator”. The Minister added that flights to Budapest would allow Macedonian travellers to connect onto Wizz Air’s network of over thirty destinations from the Hungarian capital. The no frills airline currently operates nineteen destinations out of Skopje. Meetings held between the Macedonia - Hungary joint committee on economic cooperation, which has pushed for the new service, have been attended by Wizz Air officials in the past. However, the low cost carrier has given no official comment on the issue.
Malév Hungarian Airlines served Skopje until its collapse in early 2012. It was one of the busiest carriers operating to the airport, carrying a significant number of transit passengers continuing onwards to Western Europe. Malév’s services from Budapest to Paris, London, Copenhagen and destinations in Germany were most popular with transit passengers from Skopje. The airline launched flights to the Macedonian capital in 1998 and maintained services until its demise in February 2012. Just prior to its collapse, Malév operated thirteen weekly flights between the two capital cities, although market conditions have changed significantly since.