Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Aegean to launch Athens - Skopje flights


Greece's largest carrier Aegean Airlines will launch flights between Athens and Skopje next June, resuming services between the two capital cities after more than a decade. The company's Executive Vice Chairman, Eftychios Vassilakis, unveiled the new route yesterday as part of Aegean's 2018 summer season expansion plans, which will see it add eighteen new destinations to its network, including Zagreb and Zadar, as previously reported. The carrier is yet to put tickets on sale for its new Skopje service. The Macedonian capital was Aegean's first scheduled international destination back in 2003, however, flights were discontinued later on as relations between Macedonia and Greece deteriorated. Next summer, Aegean plans to serve Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Podgorica, Split, Zadar and Zagreb, in addition to Skopje, within the former Yugoslavia on a scheduled basis. Aegean’s passenger traffic will grow to thirteen million this year from 8.8 million in 2013 when it acquired state-run Olympic Airlines. The carrier expects to carry around fifteen million passengers a year by 2023.

The announcement comes on the back of strong results posted by Macedonia's two international airports during the first three quarters. Skopje and Ohrid welcomed a combined total of 1.546.193 passengers during the January - September period, representing an increase of 12% on 2016. The two registered 13.752 aircraft movements, up 6%. "The increase in passenger traffic continued in 2017, although at a slower pace during the first half of the year. However, following the introduction of four new routes from Skopje Airport, as well as a new season of flights from Ohrid, in the second half of the year, we again recorded double digit passenger growth. We expect to end this year with a solid increase in the total number of passengers", the General Manager of TAV Macedonia, Alper Ersoy, said. Over the past nine months, Istanbul was the busiest route out of Macedonia, accounting for 12.4% of all passengers. It was followed by Zurich (8.7%), Vienna (6.8%), Basel (5.1%), Malmo (4.6%) and London (3.9%). Wizz Air continues to maintain its position as the country's busiest airline, boasting a market share of 57.5%. It was followed by Turkish Airlines (8.5%), Austrian Airlines (6.8%), Germania Flug (5.1%) and Pegasus Airlines (4.5%).

In addition to Aegean's new service, TAV Macedonia has also secured new scheduled flights to Ohrid, including Nordica from Tallinn and Brussels Airlines operating from the Belgian capital. "As an airport operator, TAV Macedonia will continue to promote Skopje and Ohrid airports with carriers and tour operators in order to provide new destinations and new airlines for our passengers. Some of the more recent marketing activities included the participation of TAV Airports' Marketing Department at the World Routes forum in Barcelona at the end of September, while in the past week we hosted a group of Italian journalists during their visit to Macedonia, which should result in the country's promotion as a tourist destination on the Italian market", Mr Ersoy noted.

148 comments:

  1. Jeli to moguce? :D

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  2. Great news. They will also offer good transfer options.

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  3. How many weekly frequencies can we expect?

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    1. Probably 3 per week.

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    2. How many times per week did they fly before?

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    3. They had started flying five times per week in December 2003.

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  4. Yay, finally indeed!

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  5. Nice and good results for Skopje too. That Wizz share is massive.

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  6. wiki says its starting in June, operated by Olympic Air dash's which should be fine for that short flight

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    1. Should be June 4 apparently.

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  7. Excellent news but I am interested to know what has exactly changed in relations between Macedonia and Greece for these flights to start? I mean the situation isn't much different from 10 years ago.

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    1. government changed?

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    2. its business driven i guess. People here with links to Aegean have told us they were considering SKP even last year. However, relations did calm down a lot with the new MK government in place but I doubt this has any impact on this deal

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    3. Well thank goodness business is taking a priority over politics in the region.

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    4. I guess two things changed:

      1. The Greek government withdrew from the aviation sector.

      2. Aegean grew to actually become a serious player. I guess the last time they were still expanding and dealing with OA so they couldn't afford to fly to destinations such as SKP- they needed the capacity elsewhere.

      That said, the Q400 won't stay for long in their fleet so unless SKP develops to the point of actually being able to fill an Airbus it will be cut once again.

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    5. Q400 is prefect for the short hops to SOF,TIA and SKP. Why should they get rid of the Q400's?

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    6. That's what the airline said, I think the main issue is with their domestic flights. Seems like the Atr was a much better fit for those short flights that require a lot of maneuvering.

      OA did add two Atr-42 that fly to some smaller, domestic airports.

      I think both TIA and SOF are operated by the A320.

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    7. SOF is a mix of DH8D and A320
      TIA is a mix of DH8D, A319 and A320

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    8. So they will use ATRs instead of Q400s in the future. I seriously doubt that 180 seat A320s will become their smaller aircraft and any destination that cannot support it will be cut!

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    9. My guess is that they are going to concentrate on domestic destinations where they can dispatch an Airbus. Those are Thessaloniki, Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini, Chania, Heraklion, Zakynthos...

      While the smaller ones will be eventually suspended or handed over to someone like Astra or Sky Express with Aegean placing its code on their flights.

      Domestic flying in Greece is not as lucrative as some might expect it to be.

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  8. Nice. Are there train or bus links between Greece and Macedonia?

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    1. lol. yes. there are buses Skopje-Thessaloniki and a train Belgrade-Skopje-Thessaloniki

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    2. anon 9:11

      no, transport is carried by mules, and instead of phone connections ravens are used

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    3. i was just asking a question. I'm not that familiar with the relations between the two countries. Thank you for the response 9.12.

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  9. Will be interesting to see the fares.

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  10. Athens is doing really well this year. In the first nine months they added an additional 1.3 million passengers thus handling a total of 16.816.217 passengers (+8%). Last year was the first time they exceeded 20 million passengers in a single year.

    As for Aegean, they quickly realized that the Greek market is still weak which is why they worked hard on promoting their brand outside of Greece. In 2006, 55% of their total income was from domestic sales. This year, 75% of their revenue comes from abroad. This is a massive shift that goes to show that their business model works.

    I hope Athens actually starts investing in their infrastructure as the airport is getting extremely overcrowded and the morning wave resembles a zoo, especially in summer since North American flights arrive at the same time.

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    1. transfering from non-Schengen to Schengen is a nightmare too

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    2. Yes, you have to make the huge walk all the way to the Schengen gates from where the 'exit' is.
      Next phase should be the development of the satellite terminal which has been shut down for about ten years now.

      Aegean's non-Schengen network is growing at a rapid pace, they will need all the gates they can get.

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    3. Don't they have a relatively new Airport which was built for the Olympics?

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    4. Yes, it's relatively new but it's getting quite congested. They are experiencing remote stand shortages as more and more lowcost airlines are using them, especially Ryanair. Also, it wasn't very smart to limit the northern most remote stands for turboprop aircraft. I think the largest aircraft that can park there is the Q400.

      There are days when they have to park aircraft at the cargo ramp. That's how bad it can get.

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    5. The satellite terminal has been converted into an fully operational area of the airport. They re-did the interior, added shops, and improved the walkways. Now it has become the unofficial "low-cost" terminal of the airport, as all of ryanair, easyjet and volotea (I believe) flights operate to and from there. From what I remember reading, once the airport reaches 25 or 26 million, they will expand the airport to meet demand.

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    6. The last time I was there (a few weeks ago) several Aegean planes that were parked on the southern side of the satellite terminal were not connected by the airbridge but had the stairs.

      They actually don't know what they want to do with it. It's connected to the non-Schengen zone by a tunnel so a few years ago they wanted to expand it and to physically link it to the main terminal. I guess that plan was dropped once the new owners came.

      They are not going to wait for the airport to hit 25 or 26. New owners said that they will wait until the end of the year to see if this growth remains and if it does then they will move ahead with plans for a new terminal to be constructed.

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    7. The issue with ATH and all other airports with heavy seasonal traffic is not how many pax they can handle total in a year.
      It is far more acurate how nany they can handle in a month.
      In July and August ATH needs to serve over three million pax each month. Having spare capacity in February is useless.
      As Nemjee rightly pointed they need extra capacity now!

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  11. A legacy carrier starting Skopje flights. Good news!

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    1. Yes, good to see for a change. Hope more are to come.

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  12. What is interesting with the passenger share of those airlines in Skopje is that there is no ex-Yu airline in sight.

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    1. interesting that Pegasus is ahead of JP and JU (although both are flying almost twice daily in summer season) which means they are doing really good

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    2. ex-Yu airlines have lost a lot of transfer passengers from Macedonia since Wizz. I remember that Jat Airways use to shuttle quite a bit of transfers from Macedonia to Scandinavia. You can bet all of those now fly Wizz.

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    3. JP and JU fly 2 daily in summer with planes with small capacity (JP recently with its 60 seater Saab).

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    4. I remember last year there was an article with stats which showed that all ex-Yu airlines were seeing a slide in passengers on flights to Skopje which is normal considering how much the competition has grown.

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  13. Great for SKP! I'm Macedonian and although SKG is much closer to me then SKP, I'm happy for this new route and overall hoping for improvement in the relations between two sister countries :))

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  14. Skopje Airport will handle 2 million passengers next year for sure.

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    1. Yes, seems realistic for 2018 in my opinion.

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  15. That's a surprise! Good news :)

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  16. Great. First new route announced for Skopje in 2018. I hope we will have some more.

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    1. I think next year a lot more focus will be put on Ohrid but we will see. This year was huge with 5 new routes.

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  17. Now they serve almost all of ex-yu and still no flights to Ljubljana :/

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    1. they did last year

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    2. I think they flew to Ljubljana last year and it didn't work out.

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    3. There is probably not enough demand. Remember, Adria used to fly to Athens to but they suspended it because of poor loads.

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  18. Their presence in the former Yugoslavia is quite impressive.

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    1. True but they should start flying some routes year round. From all those destinations, the only city they serve during the winter is BEG.

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    2. BEG has always had strong demand to Greece. Remember when visas were suspended Olympic immediately announced double daily flights to Belgrade in addition to Jat's five weekly.

      Naturally these never materialized as Aegean stole the rights from them and took over the route with their BAE. They eventually gave the route back to OA as their loadfactor never exceeded 55%.

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    3. ZAG is going to be year round too.

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    4. apparently ZAG and SKP are planned to be year round

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  19. Amazing news! Hopefully they announce a new year-round destination from OHD soon

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  20. Let's hope that the flights will be year round.

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  21. Great news! I hope the flights will proof successful as Macedonia and Greece have strong economic and touristic relations!

    In addition, I heard that OnurAir is considering to introduce an Ohrid - Istanbul service

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  22. Aegean is a great addition and will offer more choice and competitions to Macedonian passengers to Greece and the Middle East.

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    1. Western Europe as well

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    2. Greece yes, but for the middle east they are probably too late, since TK, QR and FZ already offer good connections

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    3. A3 is cheaper then all of the other mentioned carriers

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  23. Hopefully the route will do well and they will keep it for winter even with a reduced schedule.

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  24. In the long term, I'm not sure that attracting the entire region to fly via Athens will work out. I have a feeling some of these routes may be discontinued, like Ljubljana was. Of course I hope for the best.

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    1. unlike pax from LJU, pax from SKP can use ATH as a transfer point to either East or West. pax from LJU were limited to greek and Middle East destinations. Hope it works.

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    2. Today A3's international network out of ATH is maybe three times larger than what it was when the attempted LJU.
      Middle Eastern dedtinations in partiqular had an even bigger increase than that.

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  25. now we only need BEG-PRN and we are done :D

    ZAG-BEG boarding
    SKP-ATH go to check-in
    BEG-PRN delayed

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  26. Go Skopje! 2018 is going to be a great year.

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    Replies
    1. The question is, will Wizz Air add new routes to SKP in 2018.

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    2. I doubt it for next summer because they would have announced it by now. They have grown so much that I think a year without new routes would do them good so they can solidify their existing network. That said, I don't know what else they can launch that isn't restricted to bilateral agreements where Wizz can't fly.

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  27. Which is more popular for holidays among Macedonians? Greece or Turkey?

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    1. Definitely Greece. Literally everybody is going there at least once a year(Thessaloniki for a weekend or Chalkidiki :D)

      Its a rather pragmatic decision I would say, with the Aegean Sea being so close despite some hassle. Turkey comes in second.

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    2. I would with above, Greece is way more popular. However, I would say that the majority of Macedonian tourists who visit Greece do so by car with bus next then plane. It's around 3-4 hours to Chalkidiki, (give or take 2 hours due to the border and traffic!) and then you can pick from hundreds of big, small coastal places.

      I would be curious to see how many go by plane further south in Greece.

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  28. Greece, no doubt, just because it is so close.

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  29. This is great news!

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  30. I think this will be a very successful new route.

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    1. Even more successful would be Thessaloniki-Skopje, although I think the flight would be too short.

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    2. The reaaon I say this is because most of the tourists and businessmen between the 2 countries are from the northern part, the Thessaloniki area. There are also a lot of Greeks coming for wellness, spa and gambling to Macedonia.

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    3. It wouldn't be that short. Around 40 minutes.

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    4. SKG-SKP could easily be daily with a Dash 8.

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    5. The two cities are just way to close. Most people drive or go by bus. I doubt many would go by plane.

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    6. Skopje with the improvements to the road network is a 3.5 hour drive from Thessaloniki so most people drive instead of fly.

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  31. Did Olympic ever fly to SKP?

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    1. Interesting. There must have been demand if Olympic and Aegean used to fly to SKP. Crazy that just because of politics there haven't been flights all this time.

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    2. Olympic was relying mostly on transit passengers to US and Asia/Australia at the time.

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  32. Finally Macedonian tourists will have a more accessible choice rather then just the norther region they go to mostly. With flights from SKP to ATH, passengers will be able to transfer to the famous Greek islands. I'm sure there will be plenty of traffic on the flights to ATH.

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  33. Next should be SKP-SOF and OHD-SOF.

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    1. Agreed, now that relations between countries is improving a lot. FB used to fly to SKP a couple of years ago but had a crazy schedule. Even though distance from SOF to SKP is only 240km there still will be potential.

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  34. The price needs to be accessible. Many of Macedonians go to Greece on daily basis just for fun. Local air traffic is essential. I am happy that finally politics are being kept aside.

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  35. Nice. Good luck to them.

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  36. This is a win-win situation for both passengers and the airline. Also I think they can easily maintain flights from Skopje to Thessaloniki and over the summer to some of their islands.

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  37. Ja sam jos od kada pricao da su se ozbiljno nameracili na Balkan ali su mi dezurni strucnjaci objasnilu kako su smesni pored turkisha i asl. Zivi bili pa videli, ko ceka doceka.

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  38. I hope they consider Sarajevo for next year

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  39. Absolutely amazing how much Aegean Airlines has developed over the years. They had 28 international destinations in 2013. Look at them now.

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    1. How is Aegean performing financially?

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    2. numbers from 2014 to 2016: their profit was halved*: (32 vs 80 mio.) - I read somewhere, in the first 6th months of 2017 they were losing money, but most worrying is that the number of employees from 2014-2016 has increased from approx. 1600 to 2300, and they've only added 10 more aircraft in this period.
      imho this can not be sustainable in the long run.
      *source: Wikipedia

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    3. This is called expansion my friend. Its not cheap...

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  40. Aegean Bravo. Hope they start some flights from Cyprus to ex-Yu as well.

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    1. Not going to happen, only BEG has enough demand for flights to Cyprus. Dubrovnik Airline operated some charter flights to LCA but those did not last long.

      Also, Aegean suspended Paris and London flights so their presence in Cyprus is being reduced to regional flying.

      That said, LCA will have an additional 250.000 seats this winter season and they expect an additional 100.000 tourists between November and March. Maybe we will see Cobalt or BlueAir launch BEG or LJU.

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    2. BlueAir looks like a very interesting company. Despite Wizz's and Ryan Air's expansion in the region they continue to grow fast and be profitable.

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    3. They even opened a Liverpool base which is impressive. They are growing silently, just doing their own thing.

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  41. If Easyjet is dropping BEG next year, then why don't they try launching SKP-GVA?

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    1. Who said easyJet is dropping BEG next year, they just added another weekly flight and increased capacity to an A320.

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    2. Go to their website and try searching a flight after 23rd March. All the rest of the destinations from GVA are bookable except BEG.

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    3. No, it's not being suspended, no need to spread false information. The route was performing so well last year that they added another flight in February, the slowest month in the year.

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    4. Ok no need to discuss. We will see. The entire timetable until September is bookable at EasyJet.com

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    5. And what happens if BEG is eventually loaded in the system?

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    6. I have for a second time followed up on these rumours with the airline. Spokesperson Matteo Tadei has again today reiterated that the route is not being cancelled and that it will be on sale soon from April onwards. That is the official statement from the airline at this time.

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    7. They should definitely consider launching GVA-SKP. The relevant route manager, who is actually Bulgarian, has been properly informed of the opportunity. They keep on allocating new aircraft to GVA, SKP should be just a matter of time.

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    8. I guess for SKP-GVA the market is there but the yields are not.

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    9. Lol. No yields from GVA? You cannot be serious..

      /Yield manager :)

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    10. No one said that there is no yield from GVA but there is no yield to SKP. ;)

      If there were then easy would be flying the route.

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    11. Omg circular logic ftw.

      Listen, let me put it this way so it's clear: if Wizz Air was able to claim GVA as an EU destination this route would've been launched right after MLH (BSL) and would've probably been up to at least 5 weekly by now. This is based on first hand yield management and network development of SKP base, as well as geo-location analysis of BSL traffic, catchment definition and mapping of the Macedonian (with both Bg and Mk passports) and Albanian communities gravitating towards SKP on this side of the roestigraben.

      Unfortunately, GVA is only treated as a French destination for French domestic flights. So while we're observing easyJet suffocate Swiss out of GVA, we can only hope they're not crazy enough to miss out on this golden goose like they did in BSL.

      Greetings from Geneva.

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    12. Yeah yeah yeah SKP is such a golden goose that it doesn't even handle 2 million passengers. There are much larger markets before SKP that need to be launched first.

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    13. Што те едуцирам...

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    14. Tranquilis, thanks for the inisght.
      How is geo-location performed ? Is it based on searches (e.g. Skyscanner) or some other data points (e.g
      billing/invoice address) .

      Thanks in advance!

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    15. Back in the day it was based on bookers' addresses. Nowadays it should also include Google enabled insights as to where the bookings are actually made regardless of their billing address.

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    16. good to know that their GVA route manager is from the Balkans. there is stil some hope then.

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    17. Thanks, Tranquilis !

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    18. You're welcome. I mean, if Wizz can make something like SOF-GVA work, a seasonal for EZS to SKP to tip the toes in and test the waters should really be a no-brainer. You might go back to the argument about EZS having a higher CASK, but you shouldn't then be missing out on the premium they achieve vs the likes of W6 and FR on the RASK (yield) side. Something like BSL-OHD is already 4 weekly in summer and 3 weekly in winter, for crying out loud.

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  42. Finally politics takes a back seat. Great news.

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  43. now that we have Aegean, will Easyjet follow? Mr.Stelios Hadzi-Jovanov, what youre saying? :D

    GVA-SKP and BSL-SKP are missed opportunities.

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    1. Amen brother. +1,000

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  44. When will the Athens-Skopje flights be bookable?

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    1. Since they hace oficially announced the route, probably in a day or two.

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  45. Since we're talking Aegean airlines , Mr Vassilakis also said that by the end of the year they're gonna decide about the new airplanes . It's either Airbus or Boeing . It will be an investment of about 3 billion dollars by buying or leasing 45 to 60 airplanes , first delivery late 2019 or early 2020 .

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    1. And there are growing rumors that the order of the narrow bodies will have as a company some wides...

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  46. Си газиме.

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  47. Can someone explain to me why the news about Aegean opening SKP route 3pw is so huge that it got so many comments? What the hell

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    1. POSITIVE VIBE DUDES! u dont get it, right?

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  48. Maybe it was a bit of a slow day regarding aviation news, but why does it bother you that people are discussing it this much?

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    1. i think it was a big news actually.

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    2. I also think it was big news that flights between Macedonia and Greece will resume after so many years considering the political situation between the two countries.

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    3. Agree with above anon. And anyway any main topic on this site each day has heaps of comments and 98% of them are on topic.

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    4. It doesn't bother me, it's just wierd. As if it was Skopje-Sydney being opened lol bet the servers would go down if that'd happen

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    5. lol
      NOT

      Completely unnecessary comment.

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    6. i dont buy it that it isnt bothering you. you write for the second time on the topic. Its huge news, like BEG-ZAG resuming.

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    7. Oh yeah it bothers me so much, here I am tearing myself apart cause aegean is starting SKP 3pw, lord oh lord how will I ever get through this

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  49. Replies
    1. Seriously how old are you? Or better say how Balkan are you? Chillax dude, it's my own opinion and I'm allowed to have one, seems like the transition to democracy has still a way to go in your country

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  50. You gonna teach me about democracy? Seriously "dude"? Just like you expressed your very grown up "opinion", that's how I decided to reply to it. Get over it.

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