Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Aegean's Skopje flights hinge on state deal


Aegean Airlines' new service between Athens and Skopje, scheduled to commence next year, is subject to the resolution of "contentious issues", the carrier told EX-YU Aviation News. The Greek airline, which announced in October it would launch flights between the two capitals, along with seventeen other routes, among which are Zagreb and Zadar, is yet to put tickets on sale to Skopje. "Aegean has conditioned its operation in Skopje to the resolution of certain contentious issues between FYROM [Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia] and the Hellenic Republic. When and if the Hellenic Republic assures us that such issues have been resolved, we will indeed begin operations", the airline told EX-YU Aviation News.

The carrier did not specify which issues in particular needed to be addressed, however, one of the main sticking points is believed to be Skopje Airport's name - known as Alexander the Great. The Macedonian government recently signalled it was prepared to rename the airport after announcing it would discontinue the antiquity policy of the previous administration. The former Macedonian government renamed Skopje's airport after Alexander the Great in 2007, after which Aegean terminated its service between the two cities. Kavala Airport, in north-eastern Greece, has carried the same name since 1992. The Macedonian Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, said over the weekend that representatives of each country will meet in Brussels on December 11 to start talks on resolving naming issues between the two.

Aegean plans to serve Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Podgorica, Split, Zadar and Zagreb within the former Yugoslavia next year on a scheduled basis. Commenting on its upcoming new services to Zagreb and Zadar, the Greek carrier said, "The flights to Zagreb are initially planned as seasonal. Depending on its performance, we may consider a year-round operation. Aegean, as a fellow Star Alliance member, cooperates closely with Croatia Airlines in many areas such as interline, interline through check-in and, of course, in offering Frequent Flyer benefits". Furthermore, Aegean plans to strengthen its operations to Dubrovnik next summer by operating daily flights from May 29 with a Dash 8 turboprop, up from four per week. Starting June 5, the airline will add an extra weekly flight to Split for a total of four. In addition, the Greek carrier plans to boost capacity to Belgrade with the airline to run three weekly services to the Serbian capital with a mix of Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft instead of the Dash 8. In a show of confidence to its service between Athens and Podgorica, which was launched this year, Aegean will increase frequencies on the route next summer from two to three per week. The Greek carrier's passenger traffic is expected grow to thirteen million this year from 8.8 million in 2013, when it acquired state-run Olympic Airlines. It expects carrying around fifteen million passengers a year by 2023.

134 comments:

  1. On Wiki it says it will launch on 4th of June. Don't know where they got that from since the source it sights has no information on the date and obviously this article confirms the flights aren't scheduled yet. But I'm very interested to see how many frequencies per week they will offer. Any guesses?

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    1. Weren't they operated daily when they used to fly there?

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    2. And aircraft type will be interesting to see too.

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    3. It will be a Q400 surely.

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    4. They used to fly with an ATR72 didn't they?

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    5. More interesting then the plane and frequencies will be how high are the fares ;)

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    6. They could easily maintain flights from Skopje to Thessaloniki over the summer too.

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  2. There you go, once politics are involved in aviation things get complicated. Okay, it is good that the current MK government is improving its relations with neighbouring Greece and Bulgaria. I think the airport name change was a provocation to Greece. Just simply change it back to Skopje International - nice and simple or Petrovec Airport.

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    1. Exactly. Honestly, I never understood this naming of airports, especially the latest craze in ex-Yu. If you want to name it, name it after some cultural figure.

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    2. Stvarno? JFK, CDG su bili poznati pevaci, O'Hara poznati bluegrass banjo svirac.

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    3. Well some like to belittle people from ex-YU. Like we are not allowed to have great politicians in our past. Shameful.

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  3. I think the name issue will be resolved very soon. Relations between GRE and MAC have really improved in last two-three months.

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  4. Can't Wizz Air open Skopje-Athens if Aegean doesn't?

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    1. I think that all scheduled flights between Greece and Macedonia are currently not permitted.

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    2. If they can fly between Macedonia and Greece it would be better for them to try some seasonal routes to the Greek coast.

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    3. @ Anonymous December 5, 2017 at 9:26 AM
      Because Athens isn't on the coast? lol

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    4. They flew one season between BEG and Greek islands but it didn't seem to work out... Or there was some other issue?

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    5. Balkan people love to bring bags and bags (heavy ones) of stuff when they go to a beach for the summer, and lcc has such policy to pay for those (Balkan people don't like additional paying neither)... I think that was the main reason why it didn't, and won't work...

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    6. @ AnonymousDecember 5, 2017 at 10:23 AM
      OK I meant the islands.

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    7. @ AnonymousDecember 5, 2017 at 11:12 AM
      That's a possibility. I don't know if they used to sell seats on the BEG route to tour operators. If they did, they sold them probably at a reduced price which could have impacted their profitability on this route.

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    8. Czech were flying SKP-Heraklion last year (i think it was charter)

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  5. My guess is that Zagreb will stay year round. I just hope it doesn't end up like Ljubljana which they launched in summer and then never resumed.

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    1. Oh and as for SKP I think this route would be very successful.

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    2. They will be a great addition to Zagreb. A really good airline offering good service and connections.

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

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    4. I'm not that positive. People from Croatia don't travel that much.

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    5. Where did you get this stupidity from?

      People from Croatia do travel a lot. During winter we have 1,5 million travelers, very few of them tourists. And lot of travelers from Istria and Rijeka use Triest, Venice, Traviso, Milano, from Zagreb and North Croatia they use Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, from East Croatia Budapest, Tuzla and Belgrade. But still 1,5 million passengers use Croatian airports during 5 months of winter, and for sure much more during summer.

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    6. It's mostly foreign business passengers and diaspora actually.

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    7. Diaspora during winter? Congratulation! Sure, they don't work, that is why they become diaspora because they don't work hard but have so much time to travel to Motherland.

      And if there is 1,5 million foreign business passengers next year Croatia will be Switzerland.

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  6. Interesting what they say about cooperation with OU. To me it seems it's an absolute formality because they are Star Alliance members. They are operating flights to several Croatian airport and even have a codeshare with Air Serbia on routes to Croatia. Doesn't sound very cooperative to me.

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    1. True. I do wonder how affected OU's Zagreb-Dubrovnik-Athens line will be next summer.

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    2. Their codeshare with Air Serbia also makes little sense to be honest.

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    3. Isn't JP also in S.A. and still A3 ended ops to LJU after one season only. They don't make enough use of S.A. membership.

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    4. And they didn't even codeshare with Adria.

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    5. That's true. It's a bit odd. Almost all * alliance airlines that fly to Zagreb and Ljubljana codeshare with Croatia and Adria, but not Aegean.

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    6. LH doesnt codeshare on ZAG-SKP, why?

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    7. @ Anonymous December 5, 2017 at 10:06 AM & 10:12
      Put 1 next to 1. JP wasn't operating to Athens back then.

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  7. A good article from the Economst about airport names in ex-Yu: https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21731164-alexander-great-and-other-insults-renaming-balkan-airports-annoy-neighbours

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    1. Not really a good article, or one usual for the standards of the Economist. It's a rehashing of known facts with very little backdrop, analysis, and no conclusion.

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  8. Why don't they try Pristina?

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    1. Pristina is the only city they have left after Skopje. They have covered all of EX-Yu. Ljubljana they tried and failed

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    2. I think purchasing power is too low in PRN.

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    3. Anon 9:18 you forgot Sarajevo!

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    4. I'm sorry you are right, forgot they don't fly to Sarajevo either. That could be a future destination for them for sure.

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    5. They don't fly, cause Greece hasn't recognise Kosovo as independent state

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    6. There are still a few others city they could consider with their Q400s - Pula, Banja Luka, Nis.

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    7. The good thing is that they are prepared to try out new routes.

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  9. For those interested, the 17 other new routes next year are:

    From Athens
    Turin, Palermo, Bologna, Lamezia Terme, Malaga, Basel, Zagreb, Zadar, Vilnius and Cluj Napoca

    From other Greek airports
    Corfu - Moscow, Santorini - Tel Aviv, Mykonos - Tel Aviv, Mykonos - Beirut, Rhodes - Lyon, Rhodes - Beirut, Heraklion - Beirut

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    1. Wow that's impressive

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    2. I'm assuming the majority of these are seasonal?

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    3. Porto as well from Athens.

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    4. Also Genoa and Verona. They serve a lot of cities in Italy.

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    5. amazing how much Aegean Airlines has developed over the years.

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  10. So these flights are on ice. Hope they will happen after all.

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    1. It's disappointing really that a name dispute is preventing what would be very profitable and full flights.

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    2. It would not be the only example. You have politics preventing Belgrade-Pristina line as well.

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    3. There are more things than just politics blocking BEG-PRN. ;)

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  11. I knew from the moment they announced SKP they would make some condition about it. A few days later news appeared the government plans to rename the airport.

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    1. Same here. Not surprised at all. Said from day one this route probably comes with strings attached.

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  12. Aegean is a really interesting airline that has been growing like crazy. It was only a matter of time before they added other routes to ex-Yu.

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    1. Aegean is an impressive company that has defied the odds and Greece's financial and political turmoil.

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    2. And, unlike ex-YU airlines it is profitable.

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    3. Well it is 100% private so no option of having the state giving them subventions.
      So they either survive on their own or they die.

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  13. I'm from Macedonia and I'm for the change of name of the airport, not because of Greece but because of ourselves. Like someone said, I'm sure flights will start next year and I think they will be very successful.

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    1. I'm happy Macedonia is finally opening up and improving relations with Bulgaria and Greece. Changing the airport name will only bring positive news, like this new route and I'm sure more will come. Hope to see Sofia-Skopje flights too.

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    2. And Sofia-Ohrid could work too.

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    3. SKP-SPU or SKP-PUY can only work with Wizzair seasonally

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    4. Who would find an interest to fill planes regularly on those routes? Macedonian people normally go to Greece or to Bulgaria for vacations.

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  14. So with what name do they plan to use a replacement?

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    1. I heard Kiro Gligorov has been a suggested and is highly likely.

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    2. With all due respect, I think they should steer clear of naming the airport after a politician. And not just in Macedonia but anywhere in the world. Just my 2 cents.

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    3. They should just call it Tose Proeski.

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    4. Mother Theresa?

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    5. ^ http://c8.alamy.com/comp/E0NAAY/mother-teresa-international-airport-tirana-albania-E0NAAY.jpg

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    6. Ah so it's already taken.

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    7. Kiro Gigorov is most realistic.

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    8. Zaev has also said he support the airport being renamed Kiro Gligorov, especially since it is 100 years since his birth this year.

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    9. The diplomatic club Skopje is supporting the initiative where the Skopje airport to be renamed as the former Macedonian president’s name i.e. Kiro Gligorov.

      The Diplomatic club state that by renaming the airport’s name after president Gligorov will materialize the great role he has played in the process of creating Macedonia as a modern state.”

      “We stress that the Skopje airport was the base point from where president Gligorov’s numerous missions have started and ended, his missions devoted to peace and friendship, and the international recognition of the Macedonian state. In his presence here were introduced for the first time practices of protocol manifestations such as hoisting of the national flag, playing the national anthem, the lining up of the honor guard – all of the gestures with which Macedonia introduced itself as an independent and sovereign state. This is the airport from where the first planes carrying Macedonian state symbols flew” states the press release of the Diplomatic Club’s Executive Board.

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    10. Interesting that Air Serbia sees no issues in flying to Franjo Tudjman.

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    11. greeks are more fanatic then we will ever be

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    12. I think you put too much emphasis on the past. The war was 25 years ago.

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    13. Aleksandar the Great is here for eternity, Franjo is a crumb in time...

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    14. ZAG was baptized after ASL launched flights. Then again, maybe the time is right to change the name.

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  15. Maybe they could start INI instead 3-4 days a week with a Q400 to serve the MK market as well as south Serbia and Kosovo region.

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    1. I think the Nis management already said that ATH flights have potential.

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    2. good idea, hope INI managers read this blog

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    3. You can always write an e-mail to them and suggest it ;)

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    4. If SKP gets ATH, it will be complicated for INI. Maybe they can try SKG instead? It would be nice not have the same routes such as SKP so there is more competition.

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    5. W6 open up a base in ATH. Maybe they could fly to INI but I don't think that 180 seat A320s are ideal aircraft for this route.
      Q400 is ideal.

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    6. With a price of 10€ per way, they can. Even A321 in summer can work out from INI to ATH.

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    7. Hmm...yes, I am sure they will fly if their revenue per direction is 1800 eur even if flight is 100% full :)
      LCC do not sell all seats per lowest fares, if 10 eur is the fare they must live on between city pair...you will not see that city pair.

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  16. How dumb and stupid that this is the only reason they don't fly there and if the name doesn't change they would continue not to fly there.

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  17. Just restore the old name - Petrovac and problem solved for all parties involved. Plus you get year round Athens flights.

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    1. Hopefully the new government will see reason and make the necessary changes.
      SKP-ATH can definitely support year round flights.

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  18. I'm less surprised by Aegean's decision than by the civility of today's discussion :D

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    1. No Serbia-Croatia issues involved in the discussion so civility is the normal.
      :D

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    2. Who knows what all happens in the background, maybe Admin was really busy :D

      (the trolls usually come later, when school is over)

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    3. Yet Air Serbia has no problem flying to Zagreb.

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    4. Why would they have a problem? People from Serbia like to travel there and someone needs to provide a service.

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    5. Croats are among the biggest visitors to Belgrade so I am sure they are part of the passengers as well.

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  19. Name issue will be resolved in first half of 2018. That's when we will see Aegean start flights too.

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  20. I really hope all problems are resolved and these flights go ahead. Skopje needs more legacy carriers and Aegean would be a good fit.

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    1. Aegean is a good addition which would offer greater choice and competitions to Macedonian passengers to Greece and the Middle East, especially destinations like Beirut and Riyadh so you don't have to go all the way to Dubai and Doha only to go back across the Middle East.

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    2. TK would have to lower prices too.

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  21. Aegean's presence in the former Yugoslavia is quite impressive. Shows the appeal of Greece in this region.

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    1. On the most part it is purely leisure traffic. The only route they fly year round in ex-Yu is Belgrade. Hopefully Skopje will also be operated over the whole year.

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  22. The flights will be successful since Macedonia and Greece have strong economic relations and big tourism exchange. I hope all sides get over their spite and start working together so these flights become a reality.

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  23. Just when I thought politics would be kept aside and this route would start...

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  24. It is sad that there are no flights between Greece and Macedonia especially since Aegean and Olympic used to fly to Skopje. Interestingly, the only reason there are no flights is because of the airport name, not the country name. I hope this gets resolved soon and we get the connection to Athens.

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  25. SJJ is their backup. If they cannot start SKP because of politics they will go with SJJ

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    1. Interesting. Would be ideal if they could launch both.

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    2. How do you know?

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    3. If the Skopje flights go ahead I hope they consider Sarajevo for next year.

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    4. it was in their booking mask ...

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  26. Ryanair should start SKP-ATH. F*ck politics

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    1. Bilateral needs to be nagotiated first.

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    2. It wouldn't. Greece is in the EU. They only have to negotiate bilateral if an EU airline wants to start flights between Macedonia and a non EU country.

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    3. As things stand today Greece wouldn't allow such flights.
      The name issue needs to be resolved first. And especially the SKP name.

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    4. can they block this?? I think you can sue them in Brussels. Macedonia dnd Eu have open skies or how is it called

      btw Aegean landed in SKP last year carrying Apoel Nicosia fottball team

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  27. Let's wait and see what happens during the talks in Brussels next week.

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  28. OT:
    I flew last Friday SKP-VIE with OS with their morning flight and I was trully surprised that the flight Airbus A319 was 80 percent full even the beginning of december is still slow season.

    The same was yesterday when I flew ZRH-SKP with Germania.
    Flight was almost till last seat packed.

    I assume SKP should await new flights amd carriers as the existing ones see good demand on their flights.

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  29. We all know Greeks have a high ego, but in the end it is of Macedonia's interest to fix its relations and simply abide with the rules. It will be a win-win situation: economic ties, tourism, Greece is richer so investments in MK, etc, etc.
    On the other hand, SKP-ATH will undoubt be successful just like all the other capitals in the region.

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    1. I don't think the route will be a success as the distance is not that great so many people drive. If LJU-ATH failed then so will this one.

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