Six new routes from Skopje

Low cost airline apply for subsidised flight
The Macedonian government has announced an open call for all low cost airlines willing to launch flights from Skopje to six new destinations in Europe. The services will be subsidised over the next three years by the Macedonian government. The tender outlines that the six new routes must include at least one city in Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, the Benelux region as well as central Europe. The new routes are expected to be launched by the end of the year. “The introduction of new flights is important for both tourism and business but also to those living abroad which have to change several aircraft, increasing expenses”, Nikola Gruevski, the Macedonian Prime Minister, said yesterday.

Wizz Air is being tipped as a favourite to apply for the subsidies. The airline already operates flights from Treviso and London to the Macedonian capital. However, low cost airlines from Turkey are likely contenders as well. The move to subsidise flights from Macedonia came after the Turkish operator of Skopje Airport, TAV, was unable to find an airline willing to base an aircraft in the Macedonian capital. EX-YU aviation news can now reveal that in 2011 talks were held with both Jat Airways and Turkish Airlines to base an aircraft in Skopje. Flights to Rome, Zurich and Amsterdam were in play for both airlines. However, in the end, both declined.

Despite not having a home carrier, both Skopje and Ohrid airports have seen a boom in traffic this year. In the first four months of 2012, the two welcomed a total of 239.364 passengers, an increase of 20% compared to the same period last year. In April alone the two airports handled 68.343 passengers, up 19% on April 2011. Earlier last month it was revealed that the low cost Middle Eastern airline Fly Dubai is considering launching flights to Skopje by the end of the year


  1. The tender outlines that the six new routes must include at least one city in Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, the Benelux region as well as central Europe. The new routes are expected to be launched by the end of the year.

    Which six destinations do you think would be the best to fly?
    AMS or BRU?
    FRA or BER or MUC or DUS?
    VRN or FCO
    CPH or GOT or OSL?
    BCN or MAD
    MLH or ZRH

    Just my suggestion you can make your own.
    BTW I do not know, is Macedonia in open sky?
    Does that mean for example Wizz could fly all this destionations?

    On the other hand, I remember Adria wanted to fly PRN-ZRH but Swiss denied that, now I can see germanwings and Hamburg flying schedule flts PRN-MLH ?! Adria operates that as charters.

    Back to SKP, by the end of year they want to start flying to Spain? How can that be profitabale in winter?

    1. Anonymous12:07

      True, Spain kind of sticks out like a sore thumb in that list.. the only company that would even apply for a BCN route would be Ryanair. I don't see it happening though.

      Otherwise the list looks pretty realistic, especially considering Wizz Air's current network and the willingness to base an aircraft.

      Open Skies is applied on administrative level, so Wizz Air could apply for EU routes from both sides, unlike the Turkish companies.

  2. Anonymous11:00

    I just came back from a meeting where one of the most interesting things announced was that so far Jat's average load factor throughout the summer season to Larnaca stands at 70%.
    There are numerous Cypriot groups heading to Serbia to hunt, visit the spas and visit the monasteries. Last season there were two big groups of Cypriots heading to Serbia to visit the religious sights.

  3. Anonymous12:01

    of course Jat refused. they dont have planes for a base in SKP.
    it seems that AGX will lease 2 aircrafts this summer. I just saw AYT timetable @ and there are 2 flights on wednesdays departing BEG 50 minutes apart. any info about that?

    1. Anonymous12:19

      and I got my answer.
      AGX is gonna lease two 737-900 from Sky Airlines this summer! wow! 215 pax!great!


    2. Anonymous23:08

      are this aircraft going to be used for other charter destinations like greece and egypt or only turkey?

  4. some details from the open call:

    - 1.1 million € per year if you carry 120.000 pax the first year (135.000 pax the second year)

    Is this enough for Ryanair?

    - the companies must have transported more then 10 million pax last year, and made at least 25 million€ profit (o_O).

    Who's out of the game then?

    Personally i only see Wizz doin it (Memmingen, Dortmund , Eindhoven, FCO, one of Stockholm/Malmö/Götteborg and uhm BCN if they must do Spain)

  5. 1.
    I don't believe in the long-term future of government-subsidised flights, not lease because "those living abroad which have to change several aircraft" are not Macedonian taxpayers and, in general terms, earn more and have a better living standard than Macedonian taxpayers.

    If TAV, as a commercial enterprise, managed to reach a deal with an airline to "share" some of the new route start-up costs for the prospect of making a return on their investment 6 months, 1 year or even 2 years down the line then I would have nothing against that. But they are no fools to offer anyone the option of "come fly to SKP with zero risk of making a loss at our own cost."

    The selection of routes and other criteria in the way that it has been done leads me to believe that this is being tailored for a specific airline, i.e. a backroom deal. When I first read this post I thought an airline like Belle Air Europe might fit the bill, but I don't have enough information to say that with a lot of confidence.

    Belle Air Europe will open a new route from PRN to Malmo in June. Malmo becomes the airline's 14th destination out of PRN.

    Helvetic Airways is also resuming its summer BRN-PRN route from the end of June.

    @exyuaviation may want to add both of these to the New Routes section.

  6. Anonymous17:02

    Visit Kosovo, do you know whether Belle Air Europe flight's are classified as scheduled traffic or merely charter traffic? It has a great impact on their obligations as a carrier, and I haven't seen their schedule published at the airports they operate to, except Prishtina.

    I guess Macedonian government wants to consider giving serious money to a serious carrier only. With the above mentioned criteria, it can only be Ryanair, easyJet or Wizz Air. I'm sure any one of those will go for it if they see a chance, since it's an open call.

    1. Hello there.

      As far as I am aware, all their flights out of PRN are classified as scheduled traffic. I have never come across anything that would make me doubt that. I believe that their flights out of SKP are the same, but I don't know for sure.

      Otherwise, I have nothing against Belle Air, but in my opinion they're not a serious carrier yet. Although they've done pretty well for themselves in the last 3-4 years. There is certainly less "hate" for Belle Air now that there was for, say, Wizz Air at this stage of their development. Plus, their fleet is not too bad (3 A320s, 2 A319s and 2 ATR-72s), but there are areas for improvement.

  7. This is where this whole airport deal becomes murky for me.

    On the surface, it looks like a great PPP deal. TAV builds the airport, Macedonian people get a new airport at no or low cost and TAV collects the airport taxes.

    But, now, if the Macedonian government is subsidizing airlines, it seems that they're giving money to the airlines on top of a likely obligation to TAV for airport taxes, which they'll have to discount to the airlines. I doubt that TAV is
    going to get a discounted share of these taxes.

    So, basically, the Macedonian government has to subsidize foreign airlines AND pay money to TAV every time one of their airlines (that they've paid to fly) lands at their airport.

    Am I missing something here?

    1. Anonymous18:11

      Except for the minor 40k per route, the government is not paying the airline, it will be paying a part of the passenger tax to TAV.

    2. I wonder how much ~10€ per passenger impacts the demand of potential (incremental) passengers, both from Macedonia and from abroad.

  8. Anonymous20:09

    10 euro per pax for 120k pax? For an efficient operating low cost airline forcing rock bottom prices, that's big money. 1.2 mil per year per base a/c. Makes or breaks a base performance.

  9. Anonymous20:09

    I think we need to have a new flight destination to east europe, the best option is Moscow (DME, SVO, BKA, or VKO). Who agree with me?

  10. Anonymous21:42

    So MKD has to pay foreign airlines to fly to Skopje?

    This is like paying for Sex...

    obviously nobody is interested to fly there...oh well Wizzair would open a base EVEN if there were no subsidies!

    But now ...who would not take the money?
    That would be an idiot!

    It is like the owner of a hotel pays tourist for sleeping in his hotel and spend that money there.

    1. Anonymous22:25

      So much bitterness.

      Anyways, Croatia's coastal airports must be such dumps to have to pay Ryanair and others to fly there.

      I'm sure you would've posted the same comment for, let's say, Zadar and Split.

      Good decision by the Macedonian government.

  11. Anonymous23:44

    Probably they will open a new macedonian airline with 5-6 Boeing 717-200 aircraft because there is a lot of excellent macedonian pilots and a good market to expand.

  12. Anonymous23:47

    Croatian gouvernment + local tourist offices will not pay any more subventions for Ryanair and ohters for summer season, but only for winter season.

  13. Anonymous01:01

    This is finally a smart step by the government!It realised that it must invest something in the aviation if it aims some kind of development there. And to all who bash these subsidies do you know how much taxpayers money have spent Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Montenegro in order keep their defunct national airlines in the air? The answer is probably hundreads of millions-what has spent Macedonia so far? Not even a single cent-on contrary it has been grounding all of its airlines even for hundreds of thousand euros outstandig debt. As for the destinations I type on Milano/Bergamo, Memmingen, Eindhoven, Malmo, Barcelona and Hamburg/Luebeck if it is Wizz Air in question. If it is Easy Jet which I dont believe, since they dont show any interest in the Balkans, BSL can be flown with much success. I dont know why Wizz Air doesnt operate destinations in Switzerland although this country is the biggest Balkan diaspora hub.

    1. Small Shit or Big Shit, that's the question03:05

      What you're essentially saying that the governments in Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Montenegro are big piles of shit, so I am happy with my government being a smaller pile of shit.

      If I were a Macedonian taxpayer I would insist on my government not being a pile of shit, large or small.

      Furthermore, I believe the Macedonian government is not debt-free. Hence, if there is any spare money going around, please repay the debt and reduce the monthly interest, don't hand it over to people that come "home" do brag how well they're doing in Germany/Switzerland/YouNameItCountry.

      Learn from your neighbours: Greece!

    2. Anonymous08:29

      Switzerland is out of EU and still limited with bilaterals. Therefore the only options to fly there are MLH (BSL) and GVA (French portion, same as MLH/BSL).

  14. I believe 1.1m spent to lower the price of flying from Skopje (which now stands at +200 EUR for r/t) is a good deal for the Macedonian tax payer. IN additiona, it is much better than subsidizing loss-making companies (Adria, Croatian, JAT....)

  15. Anonymous01:42

    Today 19.05 LX1416 Swiss ZRH-BEG is a B737-300 from LH D-ABXO. Does somebody know why?

    1. Anonymous02:39

      Probably fleet shortage at LX! They are leasing every summer few B733 from LH.

  16. Anonymous05:35

    Three days ago the Macedonian Civil Aviation Directorate signed an air services agreement with the Australian authorities. Also, an air services agreement should be signed with Singapore, soon. I guess there are plans to connect Macedonia to Australia. The main reason is that over 200 000 Macedonians live there.

  17. Anonymous08:03

    Quite a lot of additional capacity at Belgrade today:

    - Niki is sending their E-190 today
    - Jat increased Athens to an B737-300
    - Lufthansa is sending their A321 from FRA today

    Also it is quite nice to see the early morning arrival of Jat Airways from Moscow.

  18. Anonymous08:53

    I am confident SKP and Morava will steal some traffic from PRN.

  19. Anonymous17:30

    Wizzair should repeat in Skopje what they already did in Belgrade:
    Open the same routes in the same order as they did in BEG.
    Then make SKP
    a base with a single aircraft.

    What is succesful in BEG will also be so in SKP!

    The good thing is that both airports do not have to compete with each other.
    SKP should compete with Prishtina!

    Wizzair should not forget Belgrade by expanding everywhere...they should already this year
    base a second aircraft and open new routes:

    BCN and Luebeck are urgent!

  20. Anonymous17:29

    1 word here: easyJet. Just wait...

  21. Anonymous09:21

    When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment
    is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment.
    Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service?



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