Skopje Alexander the Great Airport has overtaken its traditionally busier counterpart in Pristina during the month of May. Macedonia's busiest airport handled 148.562 passengers, compared to Pristina's 141.000. Skopje Airport improved its figures by 26.9% compared to the same month last year. It welcomed 615.518 travellers between January and May, which is some 19.000 passengers behind Pristina during the same period. Last year, Skopje overtook Ljubljana Airport to position itself as the sixth busiest in the former Yugoslavia. Over the past five months, Wizz Air launched three new routes from the Macedonian capital and replaced its service to Lubeck with Hamburg. Furthermore, Czech Airlines introduced flights from Prague. Meanwhile, Wizz Air recently applied for Hungarian-backed subsidies to operate flights from Budapest to the Macedonian capital later this year, while Croatia Airlines has announced plans to open a base in both Skopje and Pristina in 2017.
Both Pristina and Skopje airports have been involved in a tussle over passengers. Earlier this year, the General Manager of airport operator TAV Macedonia, Zoran Krstevski, said that an increasing number of travellers from Kosovo, Albania and southern Serbia were using Skopje as their point of origin. Meanwhile, Alper Ersoy, TAV Macedonia's Deputy General Manager for Operations, told EX-YU Aviation News, "An important highlight in 2015 was that the number of passengers coming from neighbouring countries, or the so-called catchment area, increased dramatically. This confirms our aim for Skopje Airport to become a main traffic hub in the region". Pristina Airport has fired back, requesting for the European Commission to investigate state subsidies offered to low cost airlines operating out of Skopje. The Commission recently said it had opened an investigation into the matter to determine whether the policy is in line with European Common Aviation Area regulations.
Skopje continues to maintain its position as the fastest growing capital city airport in the former Yugoslavia for a second year in a row. Meanwhile, Belgrade is the busiest and has reduced its overall passenger decline thanks to stronger numbers in May. On the other hand, Ljubljana Airport's results have weakened due to a notable decrease in passenger numbers over the past two months, following a solid first quarter. Pristina and Dubrovnik continue to see double digit growth, while Podgorica is attempting to catch up to Sarajevo with stronger numbers this year. Overall, the ten busiest airports in the former Yugoslavia handled over 6.2 million passengers during the first five months of 2016.
JANUARY - MAY