TAV Macedonia, the operator of Macedonia's two international airports, Skopje and Ohrid, expects for its passenger figures to continue growing in 2017 above both the European and regional average, following a record year. The Deputy General Manager of TAV Macedonia, Alper Ersoy, told EX-YU Aviation News, "If we look at the last four to five years, passenger numbers at Macedonia's two airports have doubled - from 729.297 in 2010, to 1.560.381 travellers in 2015. The intensity of the passenger growth was notably enhanced in the last two years through the opening of new routes at both airports". He added, "Between January and November 2016, the annual passenger growth rate was 16%, reaching 1.661.010 passengers during the eleven-month period. At the same time, the number of flights increased by 10%". Asked to forecast passenger growth for 2017, the Deputy General Manager noted, "Aviation is a highly cyclical business and it is very sensitive to external factors. Therefore, we do not want to state a specific number, but instead, we can say that according to our projections we expect an increase bigger than the European Union average and greater than the region’s average".
Outlining future plans for Macedonia's two airports, Mr Ersoy said, "We will keep our strategy of route expansion and attracting new airlines to the Macedonian aviation market as the fundamental condition for its continued development. As previously announced, we have two new routes planned from Skopje Airport for now. This includes Qatar Airways, which will start flying from Doha from the 2017 summer season, and Wizz Air, which will commence operating to Budapest as of April 2, a route which has not been served in four years. There will also be novelties at Ohrid Airport. As of the 2017 summer season, in cooperation with the biggest Polish tour operator, we will introduce new charter flights from Warsaw and Katowice to Ohrid".
During 2016, a total of five new routes were launched out of Skopje, including four by Wizz Air (Berlin, Copenhagen, Bratislava and Hannover), as well as Czech Airlines from Prague. On the other hand, Europe's largest tour operator, Thomas Cook, commenced services between Brussels and Ohrid, while Air Serbia and Arkia Israeli Airlines launched flights from Belgrade and Tel Aviv respectively. "Regarding airport facilities, at Skopje Airport we redesigned the departure security control area and relocated the ATU duty free shop and food and beverages units, in order to provide higher quality services and better passenger flow", Mr Ersoy said.
During last month's Southeast European Aviation Summit, the General Manager of TAV Macedonia, Zoran Krstevski, said, "In 2016 we will handle over 1.7 million passengers in Skopje and 135.000 in Ohrid. That means we have overtaken an airport such as Ljubljana which was well ahead of us only a few years ago. In the future, we expect to continue growing". He added, "Everything we have done so far has given results in a relatively short period of time and helped create a market. Now that we are approaching two million passengers, interest from carriers will be even greater. We have a smart policy of balancing between low cost and legacy carriers. As a part of TAV, we offer an incentives program for each scheduled carrier, including those for new routes, frequency increases and so on. This is generating good results".