Macedonian airports set for record year


Skopje and Ohrid airports are set for another record year after the two handled a combined total of just over two million passengers in 2017. Speaking to EX-YU Aviation News, the General Manager of TAV Macedonia, which operates the country's two international airports, Alper Ersoy, said, "Indeed 2017 was a successful year for TAV Macedonia. Wizz Air based its fourth aircraft at Skopje Airport and introduced four new destinations from/to Skopje. Qatar Airways, one of the five-star airlines, launched flights between Doha and Skopje, and, for the first time, we welcomed Polish tourists at Ohrid Airport, in addition to other leisure routes which were already in operation. As a result of the new destinations and increased frequencies, we expect to have slightly over two million passengers (13% increase compared to 2016) at both Skopje and Ohrid Airports in 2017. In addition, we have placed once again in the top ten best airports list compiled by Skytrax after 2015 and 2016".

The year is already shaping up to be a busy one for the Macedonian aviation sector. The government will commit 1.7 million euros to stimulate the introduction of new routes by low cost carriers, while three airlines have already confirmed the launch of new services to Ohrid. The expected change to Skopje Alexander the Great Airport's name will result in the introduction of flights between Athens and the Macedonian capital by Aegean Airlines. A number of other carriers have also expressed interest in serving the country including LOT Polish Airlines and Arkia Israeli Airlines. Representatives from both have held talks with the Macedonian government over potential services. "Entering a new market is always a though decision for airlines due to increased competition, reduced yields and start-up costs. Therefore, in order to make them feel comfortable, we introduce airline representatives with the respected governmental authorities. Thus, airlines have a better view and understanding, not only about airport capacity and capabilities, but also about the country, what Macedonia can offer as a destination, market size, catchment area potential and government support in aviation and tourism", Mr Ersoy noted.

In 2018, TAV Macedonia anticipates for passenger numbers to continue growing. "We predict a similar increase to the one we had in 2017, but, as you would appreciate, external factors have serious effects on passenger and flight numbers. We wish for a successful year for the entire aviation sector", the General Manager said. He added, "Our first aim in 2018, as always, will be to provide high quality services to our passengers and clients. We will continue to focus on passenger satisfaction and work hard towards being ranked as the Best Serving Airport in our category at Airports Council International's Airport Service Quality Awards, as we have done on three occasions, in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Our sister company BTA, which provides catering services, will introduce new food and beverage points both land and airsides at Skopje Airport. Thus, seat capacity at food and beverage areas will be extended".

The airport operator will also continue discussions with carriers in order to secure new services during 2018. "As a marketing strategy, we are constantly communicating with airlines and tour operators to attract them to enter the Macedonian market. TUI has already announced new flights from Eindhoven to Ohrid as of May 2018. In addition, Ohrid Airport will welcome Estonian tourists in the summer 2018. Similarly, flights from Katowice to Ohrid, as well as services from Warsaw to Ohrid, will be launched in 2018", Mr Ersoy concluded.

Comments

  1. Well done Skopje and Ohrid. It's great to see OHD attracting more and more passengers.

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    1. Yes. 2 new airline already announced - Brussels Airlines and Nordica + 2 more new routes: Eindhoven by TUI and Warsaw but I'm not sure who will be operating that one.

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    2. Nice but remember that Brussels Airlines replaced Thomas Cook. Also I'm not sure if Air Serbia is coming, they haven't scheduled their flights to OHD yet.

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    3. The government is trying to get more airlines to focus on OHD since they want both airports in the country to offer a good choice of destinations.

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    4. Air Serbia is coming back 4 weekly

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    5. Oh ok, happy to hear that.

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  2. Wizzair has definitely made an impact. Let's see what other route they could open from SKP.

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  3. There are still a lot of legacies that could give Skopje a try.

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    1. are legacies also entitled to subsidies?

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    2. Unfortunately no, only LCCs. But they all get the regular incentives from TAV when they launch new flights.

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    3. but why is that "discrimination"? And what criteria define a LCC?

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    4. I think there are guidelines that describe the airlines that are eligible to apply for these subsidies. I guess the idea is to subsidies only flights which are cheap and accessible to the general public.

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    5. We need legacy carriers not more lccs!

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    6. What we really need is flights to major hubs like LHR, CDG, FRA, MUC, AMS, FCO.

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  4. I would love if the subsidies this year were given to another low cost airline and not just Wizz Air.

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    1. +1
      easyjet, Norwegian, Ryanair would be great additions.

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    2. Pobeda from Moscow would also be a good addition. They could fly to Ohrid via Skopje. Similar to what TUI used to do a couple of year ago, just the other way round.

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    3. I don't know if there is enough demand for SKP-MOW flights.

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    4. Russians doesn't need visas to entr Macedonia, and a lot of them go o holidays to Ohrid.

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    5. Pobeda was considering flights to Skopje last year but then they gave up on those plans. Hopefully they review this decision. There is really a strong case for flights between Moscow and Skopje.

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    6. If there is such demand between Russia and Macedonia, then Aeroflot could always start flights.

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    7. Pobeda is better suited for the market.

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    8. With the current political relations between Russia and Macedonia at a low, don't expect any flights between these two countries any time soon.

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    9. bullshit, as if they stopped flying to Montenegro...

      not to mention US

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    10. Agree with last anon completely. Thaw in relations does not mean there can be no flights, plus relations between Russia and Macedonia are not that bad.

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  5. I still remember people predicting how Skopje's "bubble will burst" and that its numbers would detract

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    1. I'm not sure how sustainable a model is based on subsiding a Hungarian airline. It works now while the money is flowing, but will it work forever?

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    2. Well after the subsidies ended for a number of routes they all stayed in the network, none were suspended. So I would say it's sustainable.

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    3. I guess the haters who were predicting that the airport's "bubble" would burst will have to wait.

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    4. There are a lot of Macedonians working in Western Europe, who are using the LC flights regulary, some of them comming back home twice per month..

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  6. Has Skopje managed to overtake Pristina in 2017? If it didn't I think it will happen in 2018.

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    1. SKP will have a great chance to overtake PRN this year. It would be excellent to see FR start flights.

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    2. Wizz Air is increasing flights to/from PRN!!
      soon they will add more and I don't think SKP have a chance to overtake PRN.

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    3. But they are increasing only their flights from London from 2 to 3 per week.

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    4. It's interesting how the Macedonian government's incentives stimulated flights to Skopje yet Pristina Airport incentives have not really attracted many new airlines there.

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    5. sidnt someone tell that the gastos-reisebüro-clans have big influence in PRN

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    6. I think 2018 will be much more interesting and we will have three way competition between Skopje, Pristina and Ljubljana.

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  7. So what is the prediction for Skopje and Ohrid in 2018? What should the numbers look like at the end of the year?

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    1. I hope and expect that Skopje will reach 2 million passengers on its own this year.

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    2. If they can agree for Ryanair or easy jet to start flying to SKP, it would be more than enough and I would imagine SKP would go to 2+ mil pax without a problem.

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    3. Unfortunately, I doubt we will see Ryan in SKP as long as Wizz Air rules the skies.

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  8. well done Macedonia

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  9. Aegean would be a nice addition and a legacy airline.

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    1. I dont beleive we will see Greek carrier at SKP untill both governments settle the name issue between both countries.

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    2. There are some other planned.
      Air Albania will start flying in 2018 and they have said they will launch Skopje. Also subsidies will be given for Sarajevo-Podgorica-Skopje route and Sofia-Skopje route, but I don't know which airline.

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    3. @ Anoantmous 9.37
      They said the same as well but I think the name issue will be resolved by the summer
      http://www.exyuaviation.com/2017/12/aegeans-skopje-flights-hinge-on-state.html

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    4. @9.38 what about those long haul flights from Skopje to the US they mentioned with Turkish Airlines? ;)

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    5. Onur Air said it was interested in flying to Macedonia too. They held talks with the government.

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    6. This addition of airlines is really needed to diversify the offer.

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    7. @ Anonymous January 2, 2018 at 9:38 AM
      I think next we will see Montenegro Airlines fly that route from TGD to Skopje.

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    8. Aegean will start flights to Sarajevo if the name issue of the airport is not resolved in time. They have SJJ as back up instead of SKP.

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  10. Hopefully those Tel Aviv flights start this year.

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  11. Does Wizz have any plans to expand this year from Skopje?

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    1. It will depend if they win the subsidies contract. All their expansion in the last 6 years has been based on that.

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  12. Great to see so much development in Macedonian aviation lately.

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  13. Will Small Planet Airlines be flying WAW-OHD that the airport CEO announced? Or will it be another airline? Small Planet flies Katowice-Ohrid.

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    1. probably (because its the same tour operator)

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  14. No new announcements has been done so far for new flights from SKP for 2018 which makes me think that we will not see new flights/destinations in the first half of 2018. Even if something will get announced soon, those flights might start flying in the second half of the year. And I'm not sure how much more naturally the airport will be able to progress. What I'm thinking is still missing a bit LCC wise is maybe another flight to either Bologna or Sicily and someone needs to try Madrid and/or Valencia. Germany is well filled up along with the Scandinavian countries. I doubt we can see some other UK destination anytime soon. About the "eastern" block, Warsaw for sure can be tried. Moscow is long shot at this moment I think. Athens will be great addition but that is more political then economical decision. Ankara might work too and/or Ohrid-Istanbul flights can work out too.

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    1. Madrid and/or Valencia are far more likely to be tried from BEG or ZAG than from SKP.
      If so far no business case exists for an airline trying these routes to BEG and ZAG I seriously doubt it has a chance in SKP.

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    2. haha, the same was said with BCN and guess what ....

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  15. Macedonian CAA said late last year that that the government is negotiating for two new "interesting" destinations from SKP.

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    1. Tel Aviv and Warsaw?

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    2. I'm surprised that Wizz Air has not tried Warsaw-Skopje.

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  16. More regular airlines with flights to actual hubs please.

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    1. LOT, Aegean, Onur Air and Arkia in 2018 would be a job well done.

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    2. we really need is flights to major hubs like LHR, CDG, FRA, MUC, AMS, FCO, BRU.
      Large global hubs, we are more than covered from LCC airports away from major cities.
      That should be the focus of the government this new year.

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    3. Anonymous at 11:25 AM
      +1

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    4. +10 :)

      At least one of this please, i vote for Klm cityhoper to AMS, FCO and BRU are simular as VIE or ZRH, LHR visa issue, FRA and CDG are good but i think AMS is best airport for conections.

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  17. When and if they change the airport name there could be a boom in charter flights from Greece over the summer in addition to regular Athens flights.

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    1. I culdnt agree more on this. charters to Crete and Mykonos

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    2. Mykonos is a very expensive destinations. But Crete is a far more affordable and thus probable destination.
      ATH too of course and then use the boat to go to any island.

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  18. Plans for 5th plane by Wizz?

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    1. They based their 4th plane in SKP just 6 months ago. I think it is too early for them to base a fifth plane. It would mean they would have to launch 3-4 new routes. Maybe if they win the new subsidy tender.

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    2. I'm rather expecting swapping one of the A320 with A321 for the high yield routes such as Malmo and London then basing 5th plane in SKP as a next action by W6.

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    3. I think W6 would have announced it by now and the resulting increase in flights and destinations.
      2018 could be a year to consolidate, increase loadfactors and yields and start expanding again in 2019.

      Just my 2cents

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    4. may be too early but if there is another round of subsidies they will apply for it im sure

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  19. After starting Ohrid I really hope Brussels Airlines will consider Skopje.

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    1. Brussels hasn't really proven too successful from ex-Yu cities.

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    2. If the Greece-Macedonia name issue is resolved, EU negotiations will start which means quite a lot of demand on top of the existing Brussels passengers. Not to mention that SN can 'steal' some of the OS transfer passengers to North America.

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  20. 2018 is gonna be a great year for Macedonian airports.

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  21. Well done, Macedonia!
    We're proud of you!

    Greetings from Sofia!

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    1. Congratulations to SKP in particular, its transformation has been phenomenal.

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  22. I think INI's massive growth has certainly cut some of the growth potential for SKP.
    Also the bloodbath between W6 and FR in SOF attracts some travelers who would otherwise have flown from SKP.

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    1. add the difference in frequencies, for example Milan... 2x weekly (INI, SKP) vs 2-3 daily (SOF)

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    2. SOF growth is crazy!
      I really hope it is sustainable and not only because of price dumping.

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    3. The growth at SOF is mainly because of the price dumping, but with time I believe it will become sustainable. People in the region are starting to learn that travelling with plane is cheaper and more convenient than with car or bus. For example on some routes from SOF you will see that 90% of the PAX are gypsies living in Germany - example Dortmund and Cologne routes.

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    4. INI - success story meaning less dependence on BEG. Slowly competing with SKP.
      SKP - success story. Room for more flights to Germany.
      SOF - will most likely continue growth in 2018. Increased frequencies + capacity e.g. LH, TK, A3.

      The trio is doing great.

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  23. Think if Macedonia build new rout autobahn, Skopje-Rep.Kosova, 30% more

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  24. I would prefer if SKP would try and attract some European legacies like Air France, KLM, British Airways, Lufthansa that can offer good onward connections.

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    Replies
    1. No market for that. Better try harder with new LCC (Ryan, Easy...)

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  25. Great news for Macedonia.

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  26. I'm really interested to know how Qatar Airways is performing on its Skopje flights. Anyone have some loads?

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  27. Maybe in 2018 we get Istanbul-Skopje-New York flights. That would be fantastic.

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    1. I don't see what's funny...

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    2. It's funny because some on here believe SKP has more chance than ZAG or DBV.

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    3. Skopje got flights to Dubai before Zagreb. Don't see why it would not get flights to the US first either.

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    4. Skopje is fast becoming a major metropolis of southeastern Europe so I don't see why it shouldn't have fights to North America.

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    5. Like we all know, before receiving flights to America, SKP needs to be connected to business Europe:
      LHR, CDG, AMS.

      It is also weird that MUC and BRU never proved to be successful :(

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  28. Growth would explode if Macedonia had a national carrier.

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    Replies
    1. There is no need for it anymore. All the main markets have been covered.

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  29. Congrats SKP! I assume 2018 will be even better. Fingers crossed for new destinations!

    But I still didn't understand how many pax there were in total solely from SKP..

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