Growing support for Macedonian flag carrier

Experts back plans for new Macedonian national airline

The Macedonian government’s plans to establish a new national carrier for the country is gaining support from within the industry which believes the move could lead to more competition, greater passenger growth, improved connectivity and employment. The government has previously said it will invite an established foreign airline to become the country’s new flag carrier. According to recent reports, Turkish Airlines is the frontrunner in the process. However, local experts believe the country should have its very own national airline, despite two previous failed attempts. With the development of Macedonia’s two international airports, which are managed by Turkey’s TAV Holdings, and with Skopje on course to handle over one million passengers this year, analysts believe the time is right to kick-start a new airline which could employ up to 150 people.

Adria Airways’ representative in Macedonia, Momir Rafajlovski, believes a Macedonian national carrier could work. “If the state were to subsidise the airline and find a professional management team, then I would support this idea. Investing 100 million euros fifteen years ago was unthinkable, but today the state budget could sustain this amount for an airline. Indirectly, the government would see a return on its investment through employment. The airline would employ 100 to 150 people including pilots and technical staff”, Mr. Rafajlovski says. The former CEO of Macedonia’s first national airline, Palair, Vanja Bitoljanu, believes a national carrier could take to the skies for less than the amount the government has invested in subsidies for low cost airline Wizz Air so far. “A national airline would bring benefits such as employment, GDP growth and new destinations which would improve ties. Establishing a national airline would cost less than the subsidies currently provided to Wizz Air”, Mr. Bitoljanu notes.

TAV has called on the Macedonian government to create a national airline on several occasions. The Deputy General Manager of TAV Macedonia, Murat Ornekol says, “TAV wants to compete with airports in neighbouring countries and attract foreign airlines. If you do not have a national carrier, then you miss out on the opportunity to attract airlines from other countries. This is because of commitments outlined in bilateral agreements. We are trying to attract foreign airlines to Macedonia and establish a national carrier, otherwise air traffic in the country will stall”, Mr. Ornekol warns.

The Macedonian government has already hired a consultancy firm to undertake an analysis of the market and determine whether well known airlines would be willing to set up operations as Macedonia’s flag carrier.


  1. Anonymous09:07

    Previous attempts cost lives of passengers. If Macedonia is not able to establish a proper and safe airline then she should stay out of it. There are other countries in Europe and the world who do not have their national carrier and they do OK without it. Not to mention that national carrier is an expensive toy that can be quite a burden for a close-to-bankrupt country - which every ExYU country is.

  2. JU520 BEGLAX09:11

    The least Macedonia and Europe's Airline market do need is an own new national carrier. Just another carrier who can only survive with government injections
    That TAV supports the idea of a carrier is clear, somehow they need to get a return of investment

  3. "If the state were to subsidise the airline..."

    Što je inače zabranjeno u EU. jer se narušava konkurentnost. Ali sa Balkanskim komunjarama, sve je moguće.

    Zašto bi se iz budžeta plaćao biznis koji može i mora biti saomodrživ? Pa elementarn astvar u ekomoniji je da poslovna aktivnost vodi radi profita. Čemu poslovna aktivnost koja nema profit? da bi se nekom partisjkom poslušniku dalo lepo radno mesto ?
    Ako sumnjate u profitabilnost avio biznisa,podsetio bih vas na činjenicu da nijedan biznis ne može da donese profit kao avio biznis ( i pad isto tako ) .

    1. Anonymous09:51

      And the funniest thing is - you know what gave them this idea? Air Serbia.

      It's all pretty kinky if you ask me.

    2. Anonymous10:57

      But Air Serbia was launched in cooperation with Etihad. This is a major difference.

    3. Anonymous11:23

      Sure, you can come up with all the excuses you want in order to justify Air Serbia. The final result is the same - a politically controlled airline wasting large amounts of taxpayer's money.

    4. Anonymous11:52

      LO and JP receive state subsidies upon EC approval. Ah, i also forgot AZ which is much bigger.

    5. Anonymous22:34

      Macedonian Government is already subsidising Wizz Air... AFAIK.

  4. Anonymous10:21

    I am Macedonian and I think it is very stupid idea. Even a feasibility study is kinky.As mentioned above, the only positive thing is employment of partisans-and maybe secret agreements with TAV. I would not be surprised if they want to establish a flag carrier ship liner

  5. Anonymous11:01

    Well I think macedonia just do not need a national carrier.. they are doing fine without one... its only a expansive toy... i think the model of air serbia is a good idea... but who doesnt want to see his national flag in the sky...

  6. PURGER11:22

    Of course TAV wants flag carrier. Why wouldn't they? Company will fly to main airports where SKP is very short and in same way it will not harm Wizzair, flyDubai, Germania and Pegasus, they will pay taxes to TAV, which will, at the end, be financed by State. So more money from State to TAV. Of course they want that.

    But is it good for Macedonia? If they open company on „classic“ way by their own money and political staff, of course NOT. It will be unsafe, it will eat millions of EUR for small national budget, it will have modest route network.

    So, Macedonia should open tender for new National carrier. For sure Turkish, Adria, Air Serbia, Aegean, Bulgarian, maybe Croatia (from 2015) Montenegro (not that they have money, but they have too many planes) and some others will be interested in open company by their money, and it will not cost Macedonia a lot (maybe several millions for subventions in first few years). In that way Macedonia will have professional and independent management in same time. And if it will bankrupt it will be no cost for Macedonia. Sure, on that way Macedonia will never have big company. For beginning two 100-seats jets (in best scenario 2 A319), maybe it can grow maximum to 4 A319, but more than that is unreal and can be only megalomania financed from Government.

    For Macedonia best option will be Turkish, and then Air Serbia, Adria would not be bad option (mostly routes to LH hubs same like in TIA, PRN, VRN), but Aegean (political decision not business logic), Bulgaria or Montenegro (too small company) or Croatia (bad connections throw ZAG hub and company in bad shape) would not be good option. And for the end why not flyBe. They already have several regional companies in Europe (flybe Nordic with Finnair in Finland, franchise to Loganair in Scotland and Ireland, in Ireland deal with Stobartair), they have successful business model, big fleet, experience all over Europe, this part of Europe is their blackhole. With fleet of 97 planes and 30 on order it is not hard to locate two planes in Skopje.

    1. Anonymous11:51

      Bravo Purger, good analysis like always.

  7. Anonymous12:00

    Does any one know if the Skopje/Ohrid TAV deal with the Macedonia government is somewhere available to be read? please show url if this deal exists online.

  8. Anonymous16:00

    National airline would cost less than subsides given to Wizz Air. Maybe if you pay pilots every third month and stay in debt on every major EU airport known…Vanja Bitoljanu…please.

  9. Anonymous16:54

    Etihad je kupio Alitaliu za 560 mil EUR. :)

  10. Anonymous18:28

    @EX YU AVIATION Can you let us know how many passengers was at NT airport in july Thank you!

    1. Official figures are yet to be published but some 540.000 passengers were handled.

  11. Anonymous19:58

    OT Tivat Airport, July-204.000 passengers +7.46%
    Number of passengers from: Serbia +13%, Russia +10%, Ukraine -7%, Belarus +56%, West Europe +18%.

  12. Anonymous20:33

    This is clearly contrary to EU state aid rules. Macedonia is still a candidate country, SAA fully applicable, meaning the measure falls under scrutiny of the European Commission. The probe into Air Serbia acquisition is ongoing I believe, and I think it is another case of state subsidies for private undertaking (directly the company, covertly for TAV).

  13. Anonymous23:32

    AMS-ZAG-AMS KLM this week 96,3% LF.


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