|Skopje Airport sees busiest January on record as Ljubljana records modest growth|
Skopje Alexander the Great Airport has extended its strong passenger growth into 2016 with record January figures, while Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport's numbers were similar to that of last year. Skopje Airport handled 109.097 travellers, an increase of 23.6% compared to January 2015. The country's second international airport, Ohrid, also saw strong growth. Its monthly passenger figures stood at 4.789, up by 107.5%. Combined, the two handled 1.139 flights, an increase of 13.2% on last year. Ohrid's strong growth was fuelled by Wizz Air, which last year introduced year-round flights from Basel. Similarly, in Skopje, Wizz Air has significantly strengthened its network compared to last winter. During January, it handled its two-millionth passenger from Macedonia since launching operations there in 2011. With three new routes from Skopje planned for this summer, Wizz Air has more than one million seats on sale on the Macedonian market for 2016, representing capacity growth of 22% on 2015.
The General Manager of TAV Macedonia, Zoran Krstevski, recently spoke of the importance of low cost carriers for Skopje and Ohrid airports. "Services provided by low cost airlines and traditional carriers differ. The advantage of low cost companies is that they offer cheaper fares. This model has functioned very well in Macedonia so far because we didn't have that opportunity before. Low budget airlines entered the Macedonian market four years ago, but have increased their market share in a short while with the introduction of many direct route in Europe". He added, "On the other hand, low cost airlines have taken over passengers who used to travel by bus in the past and tourists who go on short trips during the holidays".
After a strong 2015, Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport welcomed 73.567 travellers in January, an increase of 0.6% compared to the same month last year. The softer growth came as a result of a notable decline in the number of aircraft movements, which stood at 1.974, down 7%. The fall can be partly attributed to Adria Airways' suspension of its Istanbul service. Furthermore, Swiss International Air Lines' discontinued flights from Zurich, although the carrier introduced this service last March. The airport says it expects "moderate" growth in 2016. Adria Airways is set to boost frequencies from Ljubljana this summer season and will introduce flights to Cologne, while LOT Polish Airlines will launch services from Warsaw next month.