Turkish Airlines is considering introducing transatlantic services from Skopje Alexander the Great Airport, the Macedonian Ministry for Transport and Communication has said following talks with the company's management in Istanbul last week. The Macedonian Minister for Transport and Communication, Vlado Misajlovski, discussed the possible introduction of flights from Skopje to the United States and Canada with Turkish Airlines' CEO Bilal Eksi, as well as the management of the Turkish operator TAV Airports Holding, which runs Skopje Airport. According to Mr Misajlovski, there is demand for flights from Macedonia to the US, which would, in turn, lead to passenger growth at Skopje Airport, thus allowing it to become a "leading regional hub".
Macedonia and Turkey have an Open Skies Agreement in place with both the United States and Canada, which permits for a Turkish carrier to be issued fifth freedom rights by regulators from all parties involved. This gives Turkish Airlines the freedom to carry traffic between two foreign countries on a flight that either originated in or is destined for the carrier's home country. It also enables the airline to carry passengers from its home country to another intermediate country and then fly on to a third country with the right to pick passengers in the intermediate country. However, the process could be long and Skopje Airport itself would still need to undergo audits by US authorities. On the other hand, flights from Macedonia to the US could also cater for the plentiful Albanian diaspora in the States, as well as those from Kosovo. New York is the top unserved destination from Pristina, while Air Serbia has seen a significant number of passengers from Tirana use its transatlantic service to New York via Belgrade.
The Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency said last year it was studying the possibility for the introduction of transatlantic services to and from Skopje. However, at the time, the regulator conceded that long haul flights were still some way off. "Direct flights from Macedonia to North America have long been discussed. However, there is still no reliable evidence to suggest that such a service could be viable. Canada has more potential than the United States because there is a bigger Macedonian diaspora. However, this argument is still not strong enough to begin procedures for the introduction of flights", the Director General of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency, Goran Jandreoski, said in 2016. He added, "Recently, we have been in contact with the FAA's [US regulator] office in Moscow, which oversees the Balkans. They want to help us prepare for transatlantic flights, so, if there is interest in the future, we can be ready to undergo checks and inspections".