The European Commission (EC) has launched an investigation into the Macedonian government's financial incentives for low cost airlines operating out of Skopje Airport. EC spokesperson for regional policy and transport, Jakub Adamowicz, says Brussels is aware of concerns expressed by some airlines and airports in the Balkans regarding subsidies, noting that the European Commission is in contact with competent authorities in the country. "Aviation regulations between the EU and Macedonia are governed by the European Common Aviation Area and in that context we are not aware of airlines seeking commission investigations regarding the financial incentives that the Macedonian government might be giving to airlines operating from Skopje Airport. However, we are aware of concerns raised about financial incentive schemes granted by the government in Skopje since 2012 to airlines willing to serve the airport", Mr Adamowicz told a press conference. There is a possibility, he added, of competition distortion that might arise between Skopje Airport and other airports in the region, as well as other airlines flying into these airports. "We are now in contact with competent authorities in Skopje and we are gathering information to further examine the matter, maybe just to put this issue of fair and transparent market conditions into context. There is also the EU aviation strategy we launched last December. One of the key elements is to strengthen the competitiveness of the European aviation sector in general and also reinforce its global positioning", he noted.
Pristina Airport has said it had requested for the European Commission to investigate the matter. Pristina Airport's General Manager, Haldun Fırat Kokturk, previously said, "We, as an airport operator, can compete with another airport operator - competition is normal, it is good. But we cannot compete with a government. If the European Commission tells the Macedonian government that these incentives are permitted then we will approach the Kosovo government to say, if the Macedonian government is doing this - can we do the same?” The Macedonian government launched a three-year subsidy scheme in 2012. It has proved successful with Wizz Air opening a base at Skopje Airport, which has in turn led to significant passenger and traffic growth. The government provided fresh subsidies in 2015 which led to Wizz Air’s decision to base a third aircraft in the Macedonian capital, launch a handful of new routes and introduce services from Ohrid as well.