Skopje named Europe’s best small airport

Second consecutive ACI award for Skopje Airport

For a second year in a row Skopje has been named the best airport in Europe handling under two million passengers according to Airports Council International (ACI). As the industry’s most comprehensive customer service benchmarking tool, the ACI survey captures passengers’ immediate assessment from check in through departure at the gate at more than 285 airports. These awards represent passengers’ views on 34 key service indicators and are an objective and accurate indicator of the top worldwide performing airports. The awards are presented in four categories that include: best airport by region, best airport by size, best small airport and best improvement.

Skopje Alexander the Great Airport is the only in the former Yugoslavia to win or be shortlisted for an award this year. In the past, within the former Yugoslavia, Sarajevo, Dubrovnik and Pristina have received ACI awards in the same category. Meanwhile, Moscow Sheremetyevo was named Europe’s best airport, ahead of Zurich, Porto, Keflavik and Malta. Gothenburg was the continent’s biggest improvement on last year. “As airports face the increasingly competitive and demanding aviation market, it is crucial to keep a focus on meeting and exceeding passenger expectations. Airport managers need factual intelligence to guide their efforts and optimize their investments. The ACI Survey is a tool that provides data that enables airports to identify what their passengers value most and what the airport community needs to do to achieve excellence in customer service”, Angela Gittens, Director General at ACI World said.

Skopje Airport opened its brand new terminal in September 2011. It is managed by the Turkish TAV group. In 2013 Macedonia’s busiest airport saw impressive passenger growth of 18.8%. While the airport did see its numbers slump this January, it expects to return to strong growth later this year with Wizz Air to base a second aircraft in the city in spring and launch several new routes. Furthermore, Alitalia will launch flights from Rome.


  1. Good for Skopje, the airport does look nice indeed.

    By the way, didn't Podgorica also get some award some years ago? Maybe for airports that handle less than one million passengers?

    1. Anonymous09:20

      Actually Podgorica did receive an award for best airport under 1 million passengers in 2007. I am suprised Ex-Yu didn't mentioned it with Sarajevo and DBV.

    2. Great, thanks for that.

    3. Actually, Airport Pristina received the reward for best airport under 1 million passengers in 2006. I am surprised Ex-Yu didn't mention it. .

  2. Anonymous10:01

    Skupi bravo!

  3. O.T.

    Deadline to strike a deal was yesterday. It seems that things will further escalate.
    Things are not looking up for Turkish Airlines. First the Greeks strike back when they refused to give them the rights to operate a second daily flight to Thessaloniki. Then Lufthansa goes and cancels the codeshare agreement which also includes Austrian Airlines. Finally Serbia threatens to cancel all charter flights and to reduce TK's frequencies to Belgrade.
    Fun times ahead.

    1. Anonymous12:22

      Yes, I expect TK to declare bankruptcy within days after these historical defeats in their crucial markets of Serbian charter and Thessaloniki flights.

      Lufthansa's pullout of CS will in particular destroy TK, now that they fly to more or less every village in Germany.

    2. You missed the point.
      The actual point is that there is growing opposition to Turkish Airlines' aggressive expansionism. Up until recently they were welcomed with open arms where ever they went.
      No matter how big TK might be now, I am sure they are not too happy to be on Lufthansa's black list, especially since Austria, Germany and Switzerland are one of their key markets.

    3. Purger13:11

      Turkish does not need Lufthansa code-shre concerning the fact that they fly to every single little city in Germany. It was not like that in beginning of expansion (2003.) but today they can do Germany and Austrian market alone with no problem at all. And Thessaloniki expansion and Belgrade ban to charters for sure will not have any influence in Turkish. They have enough place for expansion. If they will have more grow in Serbia they will open INI, and for sure Serbia will be in no position to tell them "no" because of political reason (at least someone wants to fly to INI), and because of financial reason.

      In that fight charters-JU to IST-air corridors via Serbia, trust me TK will not loose. Tourist agencies will push Serbia, travelers will push Serbia, TK authority will push Serbia, business will push Serbia (you can not afford to loose money from air corridors)...

    4. Anonymous13:13

      TK is still welcomed warmly by the German government and if you think the access they were granted can be so easily revoked then trust me you are wrong. They may perhaps limit TK's further expansion but it's too little too late now that TK penetrated secondary airports in Germany and are funnelling passengers from there to IST like crazy. LH was simply too late to attract these people to MUC and FRA. Now they are losing them.

      There are no 'black lists' here. LH's CEO stressed this is 'a business dispute that sometimes happen between airlines'. He did not bitch about aggressive expansion nor he demanded any protection. TK also said they hope LH would reconsider the decision. There is no 'war on those cheap Turks' which is so often called on in comments on this blog.

      One more thing: Eurocontrol forecasts Turkey will be the largest generator of extra flights in Europe, and will also see the biggest number of additional departing flights in its airspace. Serbia may wish to grab a piece of that cash. Of course we should demand and insist that JU returns to IST and receive some decent slots but there is more in this game than just: 'Show them we can be mean too'. This game requires patience and a lot of talks.

      Here is a link you may find interesting:

    5. Anonymous13:16

      Previous post was a reply to Nemjee's post above. I agree with what Purger said in the meantime.

    6. No one complained about Emirates a decade ago and look at the situation today. Try to look at the decisions taken today and what impact they might have on the future. Sure, today it was only Serbia and Greece which tried to limit TK's expansionism but what do you think, how long will it take for others to follow suit? TK's honeymoon phase is over, they have become a threat to many and these 'many' will try to protect themselves and their territories.

      What I always find funny is how many forget that Turkish Airlines has a major flaw and that is the lack of proper infrastructure which will sustain all this growth. Sure, they might be flying to every village in Germany but all these passengers need to land at a decent airport. I personally find it extremely stupid to constantly add more flights and attract more and more connecting passengers while your airport is beyond its optimal capacity. What will they do when all their other widebodies arrive? Istanbul is way too crowded as it is, imagine when the additional widebodies start arrive. There are only so many foreign carriers they can kick out of IST.

      People will start to avoid Istanbul especially when they can transit though state of the art terminals in Dubai and Doha (when it opens).

      Also, I will repeat myself once again, if Turkish Airlines flights decide to avoid the Serbian airspace we will not lose much- I am sure Pegasus will be happy. Furthermore, if you bothered to look at the actual airlines overflying Serbia then you will see that Turkish Airlines does not come close to 20% of the total traffic.

    7. Anonymous14:12

      Sure I bothered to look. I wish you also bothered to read the word 'forecast' in my post.

      Anyway, I will not oppose your crusade against IST, TK and Turkey as such. It speaks for itself. Let's just be material here:
      - IST is overcrowded but not nearly as scary/crappy place as you constantly portrait it
      - TK will of course face opposition to its expansion but this is nothing near 'black lists' you dream of
      - JU and Serbian aviation authority should (and probably will) work on striking a deal with Turkey that JU/Serbia can benefit from. It is not their job to heal anyone's frustrations with Turkey.

    8. Have you actually visited the airport? There are only a few short periods in the morning when it's not a living nightmare. Since I am supposedly on a Crusade here, why don't you read some reports on Istanbul and then you might get a better picture.

      I never meant that Lufthansa has a small black book in which it writes the names of its enemies. I meant that now they are officially done and that Lufthansa will assume a more aggressive stance vis-a-vis Turkish Airlines. It will not be as hostile as they have been towards the ME3 but they will try to fight them off and make their expansion more difficult. It's common sense 101.

      I never said that Serbia should not allow charter flights.What I am saying is that Serbia should not allow them until our interests are secured. At this point we are demanding slots at IST and we should not back down until our demands are met.

      Finally, it's quite entertaining to see that just because I openly express scepticism regarding TK's ambitions that I am immediately labelled as a Turk-hater and that I am on some sort of Crusade against their neo-Ottoman business tendencies coming straight from Istanbul. On the other hand, your determination to defend them regardless of the obvious flaws (which I am not the first one to point out) is ok and it is completely justified. lol

    9. Anonymous14:33

      Have to agree with nemjee's last paragraph, people on this blog are way to quick to take any comment that doesnt paint their favorite airline/airport to their liking and assume that someone has an agenda and are instantly labelled a hater. We see it daily with serbia and croatia threads, it seems turkey is joining the party and they're not even ex-yu. ha

    10. Anonymous14:39

      I use IST around 30 times every year including morning and midnight peaks. I use their lounges, transit zone, food court and check-in. All very far from SIN or DXB, and I would never vote IST the best airport in the world, but the place is still perfectly acceptable. And there is a big difference between acceptable and nightmare.

      You wrote TK is on LH's black list. It is not my job to decode what you actually meant by that. 'Black list' has a very straightforward meaning.

      Obvious flaws of TK are something no one sane would defend. The problem is there are a few people who point out at obvious flaws, and they are outnumbered by the geostrategic experts calling on tough approach, expulsion of ambassadors, redirection of Serbian tourists from Turkey that offers nothing but cheap prices (you are not a hater you say?). This is what I oppose because I tend to trust my own eyes more that fabricated 'arguments'.

      When you actually have some TK flaw to bring out I will be the first to support your words. I can even name you a few serious TK flaws myself, as you seem not to know a single one. lol

    11. Do not twist my words. I said Turkey is popular among Serbian tourists because they offer cheap holidays and that's a fact! Especially if you take into consideration the fact the most Serbs are not that rich, or rich at all.
      I still believe that Serbs will not be at such a loss if there are no charter flights between Serbia and Turkey (which I think there will be anyway). There are plenty of other countries in the region which offer holiday packages just as cheaply and which will be more than happy to welcome the Serbian holidaymakers.

      Yeah, I guess I do not know any of their flaws. Thank God you are a random anonymous who supposedly flies on them 30 times per year. ;)

    12. Anonymous15:08

      Well, sorry that I will not send you my boarding passes to prove I actually use IST before I comment on it.

      And a short course on facts: Turkey is popular among Serbian tourists. Full stop, fact ends there. WHY Turkey is popular is something you cannot know until you survey them or receive some direct feedback. Your 'fact' on cheap holidays is actually your interpretation which is based on anything but facts. And in the same way you sell your interpretation of black lists and nightmare airports as 'facts'. Which is something I have the right to oppose, anonymously or under a nickname.

    13. There is no need to interview them since a good friend of mine works for a medium sized travel agency in Belgrade. That's how I know most of them chose Turkey because it's cheap, the same way people from Serbia take a bus and go to the Bulgarian seaside.
      Serbs who are better off usually do not go to Turkey. For them the most popular option is Dubai, Cuba, Thailand and as of recently some destinations in Africa are becoming increasingly popular.
      Naturally, this is just one of many travel agencies in Serbia but given the fact that they quite popular gives them some credibility.

    14. Purger15:43

      Of course it is not like Nemjee want to show. Yes, Nemjee I was in that airport. It is not haven, far from that, but it is also far from Heathrow mess (you have to spent at least 90 minutes in queue on arrivals and on departures, JFK, CDG (at least one hour in queue if you are lucky, waiting for luggage for more than one hour), LGW, FCO...

      Let me remind you that IST is Europe's Best Airport in 40-50 million passengers per year category at the 2013 Skytrax World Airport Awards.

      TAV started its construction at the airport for new boarding gates at international terminal, new departure and arrival lounges as well as remote gate areas. Unused facility buildings are demolished and new boarding bridges are being built. There is a plan to build another runway parallel to runway 05/23 (4th one) as well as a new air traffic control tower. The new runway will be 2500 m long and 60 m wide. The project, which has been approved by the Government, will ease the burden of air traffic at Atatürk Airport and prevent delays. The project, which will safeguard the airport’s future, will be completed in one year following the tender process. In same time Turkish Airlines has further enhanced services with a 40 per cent expansion and design refurbishment of its departure lounge at Ataturk International Airport. Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul, has added another 2400 m2 to its existing 3500 m2, to meet the needs of growing passenger numbers.

      And not to forget that the third airport’s passenger capacity is planned to gradually reach 150 million passengers, and its first phase is hoped to be completed by 2016.

    15. I guess people have mixed feelings about IST...

    16. Anonymous16:06


      A friend of mine runs a tourist agency in Belgrade and they simply cannot meet the demand for 5* AI resorts in Belek. Clients not only go there, they return. And the place is also bursting with rich Russians who could afford any resort in the world.

      Still I would not pull any general conclusions out of it. Everyone have their own reasons when they choose holiday destinations.


      3rd airport in Istanbul is currently on hold. Not only financing of the project is under question, the very location is (it is virtually by the Black Sea where the weather is often unpredictable, thick fog and strong winds occur regularly). When you search the location for a 150M pax airport you need to spend at least 5-10 years monitoring the candidates and their environment - which in this case was not done. That is the reason why TAV will focus on further expansion of IST facilities. 3rd airport is still far away.

    17. Anonymous16:16

      It's always the same story about structure of sold holiday packages in Serbia. The very first to get sold out are the most expensive, 1.000€+ per person, 5* holidays. After those, it's the cheapest Greece and Montenegro bus tours that get sold and only after that are the mid-range packages sold. Unfortunately, we lack the middle class that usually buys those.

    18. Purger, with all respect to you, please do not compare London Heathrow to Istanbul Ataturk. Would rather spend a week at Heathrow than 1 hour to much at that smelly, overcrowded Turkish market....

      We all know where votes for IST came from. From the same place where Turkish singers manage to reach top 4 in every Eurovision song context. They have one of the largest Diasporas on planet that make the largest stake of their pax....

      Well done Skopje! Never been on that airport but have heard from a friend that is quite nice and "user friendly".

    19. Anonymous16:35

      First of all just Serbs use here “hater” if one dare to write something against Belgrade or Air Serbia. No one else. And no one can read in this debate about TK that one was called “hater”.

      Second, trust me, even if Serbia totally forbid Turkish to fly to Belgrade Turkish will not even feel that. They have more 1.000 daily departures (including subsidiaries Anadolujet and Sunexpress). Your 3 daily flights should to be so important to them. Come on, be real and stop thing that you are the center of Universe, and that you can fight company that have in 2013 (including subsidiaries):

      340 destinations
      62 million passengers
      234 323 planes
      18 billion USD of revenue

    20. Anonymous16:42

      Sorry for mistakes:

      First of all just Serbs use here “hater” if one dare to write something against Belgrade or Air Serbia. No one else. And no one can read in this debate about TK that one was called “hater”.

      Second, trust me, even if Serbia totally forbid Turkish to fly to Belgrade Turkish will not even feel that. They have more than 1.000 daily departures (including subsidiaries Anadolujet and Sunexpress). Your 3 daily flights is not of any importants to them. Come on, be real and stop thing that you are the center of Universe, and that you can fight company that have in 2013 (including subsidiaries):

      340 destinations
      62 million passengers
      323 planes
      18 billion USD of revenue

    21. TK is one of the greatest and largest airlines in the world. No one argues about that.

      In Belgrade they are going to bend down, push back and play fair. Its a matter of principals, not a competition of annual revenues.

      Good job Serbian authorities.

    22. Anonymous16:48

      I work as a travel agent in Zagreb.
      Few points:
      - IST is not smelly
      - LHR is super overcrowded
      - Choice IST or LHR depends on personal preferences such as unnecessary anti Turkish bias that IST is smelly
      - Russians go massively to Turkey because they do not need visas

    23. Purger16:58

      Vlada I am huge fan of London and for sure I am not objective about comparison of Istanbul and London. I will always choose London, I am crazy about that city. I am in London 3 times pre year, and in Istanbul once in two years. I don’t like this mentality, I hate so many things in Istanbul, but still I can not say that I don’t enjoy in lot of things in Istanbul.

      But here we are not talking about destinations, but about airports. If I have to choose LHR or IST I will always choose IST. LHR is disaster. You spent hours in queues, it is not organized well, you have to travel for 30 minutes by bus just to take rent’a’car, don’t even try to come to terminal by car... Airport is disaster. I avoid LHR (and LGW) as much as I can, and will always use alternative to travel to West Europe (FRA, MUC, ZRH, AMS, even CDG which is also not best option). Always.

    24. Anonymous17:04

      @ Kinderlada

      Turkish singers hardly ever make it to Top 10 in Eurosong. How interesting, though, that representatives of Serbia regularly get 8/10/12 points from Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia... Wanna try again to conclude something 'we all know...'?

      The only smell one can feel is the smell of your racist brain. The scum it produces can even be smelled online.

    25. Purger, dont get me wrong, I have nothing against Turkey or Istanbul as such, but heres few facts that are will clarify my opinion...

      Heathrow IS worlds busiest airport. It carries almost 3 times more pax than IST.
      I work at the airport and the feedback from customers is great. On every 5 meters theres staff willing to help. The word "overcrowded" is not used in a right way. You can not expect to be at the gates within minutes of check-in at an airport that size. IST is overcrowded, BEG is geting overcrowded, but LHR is just the biggest one.
      Dont know when you were at LHR last but que at gates at T5 ar e20 min at its busiest.

    26. @AnonymousFebruary 22, 2014 at 5:04 PM

      1. Your statement about Serbias votes in Eurovision is true but doesnt contradict my statement about TK votes.

      2. You are one very frustrated person.

      3. I DO love kebab and would be honored to eat in your shop.

    27. Anonymous22:10

      Serbia gets top points from all ex-Yugoslav republics....

    28. Anonymous23:27

      @vlada kinderlada

      +1 :D

    29. Purger02:02

      Vlada I use LHR at least 3 times per year. Every time, but every time que on imigration on arrival was more than one hour. Also body check on departures. At least one hour, many times even more. So, it is not that airport is big. It is bad organised, not enough staff and in total mess.

    30. Purger, I just travelled from Dublin to Zagreb via LHR, no border check anywhere!!! Got off BA flight and went outside for a smoke. Got back in the building, continued to OU flight with no border/passport control as if it was a domestic flight. Weird!

    31. Anonymous18:14

      @ Claudia Floraunce

      you did not go through passport control as flights from ROI are treated as domestic (The Common Travel Area CTA is a travel zone that comprises the islands of Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), coming back to continue your journey your documents were not checked as UK Border Agency simply doesn't have EXIT passport checks (like Schengen and most of other countries!)

  4. Anonymous10:44

    State protectionism!

    1. Pera Kojot12:03

      from which side? You are aware that TK cancelled JU slots, right?

  5. Doot10:51

    Skopje airport is nice. No question about it. Still has that "new airport" smell :)

  6. OT: flyDubai flight DXB - BEG is 4 hours late today!!!
    FZ 741 DUBAI 12:15 16:05 Boeing 737-800 New time at 16:05

    I know how people like to bash regional carriers, so thought that they would be interested in this as well.

    1. Anonymous11:37

      Let's not forget Lufthansa's cancelled flight from two-three days ago when its Embraer broke down. Scandalous.

    2. Anonymous12:28

      It just proves that FZ's and LH's business models are complete failure and they are both joke carriers with disastrous performance. Disastrous!

    3. Purger13:19

      It is all about percentage of delays and cancellation in all flights and taking care of passengers. In begging Air Serbia had very bad score of delays and cancellations. To be fare, today situation is much better. Concerning taking care of passengers’ situation still is not good enough. Not just on Podgorica example but still in case of delays there is not information or in some cases even world of apologize. And that is something so easy to make. You must have system, who, what and how to do in case of delays and cancellations. Passengers will appreciate just to see that someone will take care of them. That solves 90% of problem and dissatisfaction.

    4. JATBEGMEL17:25

      Fog this morning in the UAE was the reason why the departure from DXB was delayed.

  7. 9A-CRO12:55

    Great news for Skopje, very nice looking airport!!

    Regarding Turkish, never like them from the very start... They claim they are world number 1 airline (rated by passengers) but they don't say that from 300 million votes, 280 million came from Turkey... They're demanding slots on all major airports and in "prime time" but on the other hand they offer you crappy slots... Plus, their flight experience is not anything special (it's good, but nothing out of the ordinary) and prices are in higher range.

    Pozdrav svim ljudima dobre volje!

    1. 9A-CRO12:57

      Forgot to say, Turkish Airlines is non-official owner of Istanbul airport, and all major airports in Turkey.

    2. Anonymous13:22

      TK never claimed they are world number 1. They claim to fly more countries than any other airline and that is true.

      They cannot receive 280 million votes from Turkey because Turkey has a little over 40 million registered internet accounts.

      TK prices are only high if you fly from Turkey. In most other markets TK offers best or close to best deals.

      They are not non-official owner of any airport. They own a number of terminals but airports are owned by large conglomerates such as TAV. They of course work closely together because they are all domestic.

    3. 9A-CRO17:59

      1. Some time ago their slogan was "world's best airline" or something like that, now it's changed to "widen your world"
      2. Yes they can receive a 50 billion votes if they want, when you turn off your router and turn it on again you receive another IP adress plus you can clean cookies (or whatever) and you can revote.
      3. Price speak for themselves, but are they prone to change at any given moment, so I may be wrong on this one!
      4. TAV Airports Holding is partially controlled by Turkish, same as Lufthansa is "secretly" owned by some banks, those banks are owned by Mercedes Benz plus Mercedes Benz has some nice share of stocks from Airbus (yes, Airbus himself!!!) in their portfolio.

      I can't prove this as I haven't seen the papers but have heard this from several people from Lufthansa and Turkish (most of them from higher positions) and everything points out that this is true info.

    4. Anonymous02:05

      You just mix it up. Mercedes Benz is share owner of Airbus. And Deutche Bank of them all.

  8. Anonymous13:45

    @9A-CRO Nice to see Mr President himself commenting ;) Pozdrav i tebi

  9. Anonymous13:52

    SVO best european airport? This is not serious...

    1. Anonymous16:43

      If anyone considers SVO best european airport, they have to be out of their mind...

      new terminal at which North American flights are arriving is nice, I have to admit. I my opinion still far from FRA but nice.

      On the other hand, the old terminal (from which JU flights to BEG depart) is the most horrible terminal I have been to in europe.Not to mention that all terminals are Horribly connected, in multiple levels Without belts or trains, god forbid :)

      I flew several times from jfk to beg via svo because it was cheap, but now im switching to dus or txl with airberlin... I guess they are now offering good prices...

  10. Anonymous14:16

    Congrats to skopje! A second award in a row is not too shabby at all. Im not too sure how the aci voting works but im guessing a lot of people voted very positively for skopje because they still remember what an absolute dump that old hangar was, probably the worst terminal in ex-yu so this new terminal is a major improvement. Even the two week weather nightmare before new years didn't seem to dent peoples opinion too much. Hope the weather allows them to reach a million this year.

  11. Anonymous19:16

    Definitely the best small airport with one of the worst ILS minima in Europe causing a couple of hundreds of diversions in the last 3 months. The jetbridges looks nice however.

  12. Anonymous20:36

    OT : Does anybody know what was Yakutia Airlines doing in BEG today?

    1. Yakutia is a regular in Belgrade since they service their aircraft at Jat Tehnika.

  13. Congrats to Skoplje.

    I was wondering ifanybody knows little more about this surway. Is it independent or you have to pay to be evaluated? The reson why am I asking this is because in NA there are a lot of companies which award Best Employer awards fo example. But in order to be included you have to pay the fee. Than you have funny case where a company is the best one year and not included next year.


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