|Hungary to sponsor flights from Budapest to Podgorica, Pristina and Skopje|
The Hungarian government has announced plans to subsidies flights from Budapest Airport to three cities in the former Yugoslavia. The Hungarian Development Ministry will publish a concession tender in the European Union's Official Journal for interested airlines to operate services from the Hungarian capital to Podgorica, Pristina and Skopje. Furthermore, the state will sponsor flights to Tirana and Sofia as well. Any carrier registered within the European Union will be eligible to apply for the subsidies, although the exact terms and conditions are yet to be revealed. According to the ministry, the new routes will help boost trade and tourism. It further adds that financial assistance is being offered since a number of destinations formerly served by the national carrier Malev, which filed for bankruptcy in February 2012, are yet to resume.
Slovenia's Adria Airways is considering applying for the subsidies. The airline has bases in both Pristina and Tirana, while the Slovenian Minister for Transport, Peter Gašperšič, said last December that Adria was hoping to enter the Hungarian market. "Adria could easily win deals there [Hungary]", Mr Gašperšič said, referring to the upcoming concession. Malev used to operate double daily flights to Pristina, thirteen weekly services to Skopje and six weekly flights to Podgorica just prior to its collapse four years ago. The Hungarian government will not offer subsidies for flights to Zagreb and Sarajevo, which were once served by Malev and are no longer linked to Budapest with a regular air service. Belgrade remains the only city in the former Yugoslavia with scheduled flights to the Hungarian capital, served twice weekly by Belarus' Belavia. Air Serbia suspended the route last October.
Wizz Air is seen as a strong contender for the Budapest - Skopje service. Fuelling speculation is the recent advertisement published on Wizz Air's website promoting special fares between the two cities. It was removed a short while later. Last summer, the Minister of State for Economic Diplomacy in the Hungarian government, Levente Magyar, urged for flights between Budapest and Skopje to be established in order to "facilitate the development of tourism, cooperation between enterprises and people to people exchanges”. Hungary is currently the fifth largest investor in Macedonia. 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”.