The Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency and the operator of the country's two international airports, TAV Macedonia, have said that the establishment of a planned new national carrier would be unsustainable and that conditions have not been met for its set-up. The comments come over a year after the Macedonian government tasked the Dutch-based InterVistas Consulting Group to compile a detailed traffic forecast, as well as a financial feasibility study, and give recommendations on whether a new national airline is required. "The initial analysis made by the consultant shows that it is unviable to establish a national airline under current market conditions. The consultant was asked to asses whether it would be sustainable for Macedonia to create a new airline, keeping in mind the cost of hiring staff, fleet investment and licensing", the head of the aviation regulator, Goran Jandreoski, said. He added that a new study would be conducted next year and that a flag carrier could be set up only if there was a significant surge in the number of people travelling by plane to and from the country.
The General Manager of TAV Macedonia, Zoran Krstevski, noted, "The formation of a state-funded flag carrier, as a global trend, has been rejected. Privatisation is the leading factor in creating new airlines. However, it is a different question whether the state would allow a foreign airline to carry its flag". Previously, the head of TAV Airports Holding, Sani Sener, said Macedonia is in need of a national carrier, as well as hotels and investment in tourism, which would complement the country’s geographical importance. “What is lacking is a national airline. 'Macedonian Airlines' must be established. We have invested in airports and Macedonia should invest in its own airline", Mr Sener said at the time. He added, "Every country should have an airline. I'm sure it will happen soon and, with it, the number of passengers will rise significantly”.
Macedonia remains committed to subsidising low cost carriers, a policy which has attracted the likes of Wizz Air, which has carried over two million passengers to and from the country over the past few years. Since the 1990s, Macedonia had two national carriers, both of which subsequently declared bankruptcy. Palair Macedonian Airlines was founded in 1991 to became the country’s national airline but was hit by local competition with the creation of MAT Macedonian Airlines in 1994. As a result, it ceased flying in 1996. MAT was formed in cooperation between JAT Yugoslav Airlines and local businessmen. In 2000, the Macedonian government declared MAT the country’s national carrier owned by two private stakeholders. However, mounting debts, as well as political wrangling, saw MAT cease operation in September 2009. MAT’s demise was followed by an attempt to relaunch the airline as Mat Airways several years later, however, it too failed.