Macedonian airports set for another record year


Macedonia's two international airports, Skopje and Ohrid, are preparing for another record year after they handled a combined total of over 2.1 million passengers in 2018. With Wizz Air set to launch new flights to the country later this year and growing interest from other airlines, the airport's operator, TAV Macedonia, is targeting new markets in Europe and the Middle East, while services to the United States and Canada remain its "biggest wish".

The General Manager of TAV Macedonia, Alper Ersoy, spoke to EX-YU Aviation News about the airport's achievements in 2018 and its goals for the upcoming year. You can read the full interview below:

Are you satisfied with the performance of Macedonia's two airports in 2018?

Indeed, we are satisfied with the performance at the Macedonia’s airports in 2018. It was a successful year at both Skopje and Ohrid airports in terms of operations and air traffic. New routes have been opened, and some airlines increased their frequencies, while new airlines entered the market.

LOT Polish Airlines entered the market and commenced flights to Warsaw six times per week (four during the winter), while the Athens – Skopje route was resumed after a fourteen-year break by Aegean Airlines.

Five new routes were launched from Ohrid: Istanbul by Onur Air, Tallinn by Nordica, Warsaw by Enter Air, Eindhoven by TUIFly, and Vienna by Wizz Air. As a result of these new destinations, three new airlines entered the market (Onur Air, Nordica, Enter Air), two new incoming markets were added into our network for tourists at Ohrid - Turkey and Estonia - and the Polish market, which was opened in 2017 (Katowice), has been expanded with the addition of Warsaw as a second destination.

Consequently, we succeed in maintaining double digit passenger growth at both airports combined, which is up 16% year-on-year on the period between January and November.

In addition, we marked an important milestone, not only for TAV Macedonia but also for Macedonia and its aviation industry. On December 5 we welcomed Skopje Airport's two-millionth passenger in a single year. Only four years ago, at the end of October 2014, we celebrated the one-millionth passenger at Skopje Airport. We are happy and glad to double our numbers in just four years.

We expect to finish 2018 with over 2.1 million passengers, or a 16% increase in the number of travellers on an annual basis at Skopje Airport and 180.000 passengers at Ohrid Airport.


What are some of the markets you are targeting at the moment in terms of future air services from Macedonia?

We are constantly monitoring passengers’ demand regarding new destinations, communicating with airlines which are considering Macedonia’s airports as new destinations, and studying passenger flow to and from Skopje and Ohrid airports. Based on these tools, we determine our market each year. However, generally speaking, our main targets are European destinations, as well as the Middle East, due to its proximity to the Balkans and the interest in Middle Eastern countries for travel to the Balkans.

With Skopje handling over two million passengers in 2018, are there any plans to expand capacity at Skopje Airport in the near future?

Skopje International Airport's terminal building has a capacity to handle 4,2 million passengers per year. Therefore, we do not have any issues with airport capacity. We manage the terminal building and passenger flow according to IATA level C and constantly monitor KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] of said level at check-in, gates, security, passport control etc. If any enhancement or expansion is required in the future, we have plans which are ready to be applied.

Last year there were discussions over possible transatlantic flights from Skopje. Is this still on the table and have any additional talks taken place regarding potential services to the US or Canada?

It is one of our biggest wishes. However, it depends more on the airlines and two-way demand. If any carrier decides to make such an investment, it would be a costly operation. Wide-body flights require bigger market demand, meaning not just from Macedonia, but from the entire Balkan region.

Skopje International Airport is ready to provide the greatest support to any airline considering transatlantic flights. It can cater to the entire Balkan area for connections to the United States and Canada, as one of the biggest diaspora centres.

Comments

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

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  2. Wizzair will definitely be the story of 2019 for Macedonian airports. Let's see what other route they will open from SKP and OHD. I assume flights will be on sale very soon.

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    Replies
    1. When has Wizz not been the story of the year for Macedonian airports in the past 5 years? :D

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    2. Any chance for Wizz to upgrade remianing 2 A320s at Skopje to A321s?

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

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    1. Well the bubble isn't growing as fast as it used to. Remember that no airlines besides Wizz Air showed interest for government subsidies.

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    2. Growth is primarily based on Wizz subsidies. It works now while the money is flowing, but will it work forever? Remember that as soon as the government annulled a few tenders, Wizz turned two routes from SKP seasonal.

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    3. 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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    4. Let's see how long they are sustainable with PRN booming.

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    5. I would say SKP is booming as well. Double digit growth for like the 5th year in a row. Over 1 million passengers added in 4 years.

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

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    7. Well 2019 will be an indication of how much the bubble will keep on growing.

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  4. It's nice to dream big but I seriously doubt we will see long hauls from Skopje any time soon.

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    1. Only airline that could realistically do this is Turkish. Had they invited TK to set up a national airline, like they are doing in Albania, I think we would have seen TATL from Skopje.

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    2. I would rather them give money to Wizz then start establishing a costly national airline.

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

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

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  5. Turks have done a great job with foreign airlines in SKP. Now that they control ZAG would be great to do the same. They need to encourage W6 to launch ZAG-LTN. They can as they have a great relationship with them.

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    1. With ZAG CEO being of Turkish nationality doesn't mean that "turks control ZAG". Besides, Wizzair tried and failed in ZAG and I doubt it would be coming soon, especially with these ZAG prices. Personally, I would prefer to see Easyjet back to ZAG than Wizzair, and Gatwick or Stanstead instead of Luton

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  6. Has Skopje managed to overtake Pristina in 2018? If it didn't I think it will happen in 2019.

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    Replies
    1. SKP will have a great chance to overtake PRN this year. Especially since W6 said recently they have no plans to open a base in PRN any time soon.

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    2. Germania is basing a plane in PRN this year and will probably launch many new routes.

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    3. They have only announced one new route. As long as PRN's traffic depends largely on tour operators, there will be no major boom in numbers.

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  7. So what is the prediction for Skopje and Ohrid in 2019? What should the numbers look like at the end of the year?

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    1. My guess is between 2.20 and 2.26. SKP doesn't have that many new route announcements.

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    2. I hope and expect that Skopje will reach 2.2 million passengers this year.

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    3. 9.18 It will have at least two new routes announced by Wizz in next few days.

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    4. And possible Pegasus flights from Izmir.

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    5. Two new routes by Wizz Air can't bring more than 100.000 passengers per year.

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  8. Last year there were a lot of announcements for new flights to Ohrid by this time. This year barely any. Anyone know what's going on?

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    1. Well OHD will loose Small Planet Airlines. It has gone bust.

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    2. Maybe LOT could replace them?

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    3. yes small planet is gone but charters to OHD are on sale already.

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    4. I wonder which airline will take over.

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  9. well done Macedonia

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    1. +1. Great to see so much development in Macedonian aviation lately.

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

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  10. Hopefully those Tel Aviv flights start this year.

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    1. +1 as far as I remember, Arkia was interested.

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    2. Arkia flies seasonally to Ohrid.

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

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    1. I agree. We really need is flights to major hubs like LHR, CDG, FRA, MUC, AMS, FCO, BRU.

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    2. At least one of this please

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  12. There could be a boom in charter flights from Greece over the summer in addition to regular Athens flights.

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  13. Plans for 5th plane by Wizz?

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    Replies
    1. Not this year, I don't think so.

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  14. 2019 is gonna be a great year for Macedonian airports.

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  15. Srecna vam Nova 2019 Godina,No da budemo razumni i odgovorni ,vazduh koji se nalazi iznad grad Ohrid i osobito iznad manastirski kompleks Sveti Naum je apsolutno najbolji u Makedoniji i u Europi taj vazduh nije zagadjen stetnim gasovima,to treba sacuvati,aerodrom Ohrid ne treba da ima subvencije za nove aviokompanije i gusti saobracaj sa dizel vozila,a to se odnosi i na putni saobracaj,fantasticno ljepa i cista priroda treba bude i dalje cista za da budemo zdravi,vitalni i da nasa buduca djeca budu zdrava i prosperitetna.Ne treba nam previse potnika na aerodrom Ohrid.

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  16. 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 finally resolved this year, EU negotiations will start which will increase demand on top of the existing Brussels passengers. Also Brussels Airlines could attract some of OS' transfer passengers to North America.

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  17. So no airport expansion into the foreseeable future?

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    1. Like the CEO says, there is no need for an expansion at the moment.

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  18. 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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    1. No market for that. Better try harder with new LCC.

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    2. I think there is also room for more LCCs. For example Easy jet, Eurowings and Transavia.

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  19. So it's interesting that they say they are looking for new flights to the Middle East but where from? There are already Dubai and Doha served from Skopje.

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    1. Tel Aviv? Kuwait? Beirut?

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    2. I'm really interested to know how Qatar Airways is performing on its Skopje flights. Anyone have some fresh loads? From what I'm hearing it's not doing that great.

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    3. I have flown the QR route to Skopje several times in the past year. It’s doing pretty well considering it mostly manages to fill 50-80% of the seats. From what I have seen, its mostly Macedonians living in Australia or Qatar along with a few foreign business travelers.

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  20. Maybe in 2019 we get Istanbul-Skopje-New York flights. That would be fantastic.

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    Replies
    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.

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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. Before getting flights to America, SKP needs to be connected to some main hubs in Europe.

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    5. It got DXB flights before ZAG because of Macedonian government subsidies

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    6. Flydubai was never subsidized by the Macedonian government. The only airline that has (and one every tender for these subsidies) is Wizz Air.

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  21. I LOVE the New Year video they did. Very cute.

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  22. I don't understand the logic for that. Although as a Macedonian citizen I will be happy to see transatlantic flights but why would Turkish want to do a stop in Skopje (something they haven't done before with any other city) in order to get 50 more passengers to NYC? They have a hub just an hour away from SKP from where passengers can fly to many more points in USA beside NYC. Even if someone decides to launches flights to USA at some point in the future I would think that will be some charter airline running seasonal summer flights. If you ask me I would rather fly and enjoy the excellent Turkish or Qatar service then to experiment with something new and fly some outdated 767 nonstop to SKP. Turkish had a plan to introduce third daily flight in the summer season in 3 days per week but they canceled those plans. So, to conclude SKP is currently in a good shape as much as can be keeping in mind that the population of the country is 2 mil. The catchment area might be 4 to 5 mil but you have other airports in the vicinity which are also battling for passengers. SKP has handful of options for many points in Europe, good (not perfect) options for connecting through IST, DOH, BEG, VIE, WAW on long haul routes. With the current economic and political situation this is excellent.
    What would I like to see in future?

    1. Flights to Moscow (Moscow is very important city, even with the current east-west bashing, its important as a city and Russia as a country since most of the agricultural produces from Macedonia are heading to Russia)
    2. If W6 is really serious with Macedonia, get Macedonian AOC and start flying to Israel and other countries where they can't fly currently because of regulations.
    3. TAV Management (not the government) to work more aggressively on attempting airlines to fly to SKP. I think SAS has a chance in the Nordic countries and Lufthansa to Frankfurt and onwards. I will put KLM here as well. I don't believe we need Air France or British at this moment, there is no market for them.
    4. For national airline there needs to be a serious process of research. I don't think we need national airline currently, I would rather focus on what we have currently and expand that.
    5. I'm not a big supporter of expanding Ohrid because the city does not have real capacity for many tourists and it should be as it is now, small and clean airport/city.
    Thanks for reading.

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    1. Agree with your five points.

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    2. Totally agree for Moscow. Skopje is one of the few capitals not connected to any of its 4 airports. Politics aside, Moscow is in the end, a financal centre and there is serious business.

      Also agree with the Macedonian AOC. But if MK joins the EU, there will no longer be need for it. Israel is extremely popular in the rest of the Eastern European countries, also because of the historic ties. Significant Jewish community in Hungary, Poland, 3rd largest synagogue in Europe is in Sofia. Also OTP-TLV is extremely busy route, etc.

      TAV built a good terminal, but it is true that much more work needs to be done. Similar to ZAG.

      Point number 4 is absolutely correct. There are many countries without a flag carrier simply because there is no need to have it, if you already are well connected. Very good example is Slovakia. Even OK will stop flying there.

      OHD is already growing slowly but won't reach the DBV levels at this point. However, remember that massive tourism plays a vital role for the economy. But the real victims become the locals, where they have to pay higher prices.
      Some cities in Europe are the victims of their success. Good examples are Barcelona and Prague where the rents are just insanely expensive and have no relation with the salaries.

      Finally, and as it has been repeated here by many people. MK definitely needs to lower its reliance on W6. Just imagine how CRL will be if it weren't for FR.

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    3. Pobeda had SKP included in their first list of desired destinations years ago. not sure what went "wrong" but It surely wasnt politics ... i guess their west destinations proved more succesful then thought and they kept focusing on it and are now even launching places like Ostende !

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  23. Congrats SKP! I assume 2019 will be even better. Fingers crossed for new destinations!

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  24. Ohrid really could be a fantastic spot for more tourists.

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  25. Congrats SKP and OHD! Wizzair has definitely made an impact. Let's see what other route they could open from SKP this year.

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  26. With four new Wizz routes + Vienna launched in November, Ohrid will be the major winner this year.

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  27. OHD is going up to 260.000 pax

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  28. I'm really glad for Skopje knowing how many passengers they had only 5 years ago.

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    1. one has to wonder what is the ceiling of SKP.

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    2. Sooner or latter normal generic growth will begin. But anyway SKP is a success story in its own right. Congrats!

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    3. Similar to its smaller sister - INI, SKP has basically reached its limits. Even if W6 brings another plane, they will exist the current destinations only or launch 1-2 routes maximum. This already happened in OTP.

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    4. simpatican si

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  29. Great news for the two airports. Unfortunately it has been decided that the cargo airport in Stip won't be built.

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  30. im guessing 2.2 million passengers for skp and 200k for ohrid in 2019

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    1. OHD already will have 180k in 2018 ;)

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    2. I think Ohrid can count on adding more than just 20,000 passengers in 2019.

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  31. Wizz employee here (not management). This is to advise everyone that we enjoy working with SKP/OHD staff and both airports in general because of their effective and pragmatic approach to problems and because they do the extra mile whenever it's needed to make things work. This is valid to PRN (and of course our local Macedonian crew!) as well.

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    1. That's nice to hear :)

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    2. Are there any roomers on the new routes, especially from OHD... thanks

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  32. I can’t wait to see the new destinations from SKP and OHD!
    Btw. I am sure that OHD has not reached it’s real potential in terms of tourism. LCC will help a lot especially outside of the peak season.

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  33. I think Macedonia needs a 3rd airport. Strumica is excellently located between the borders of Greece and Bulgaria (only 15km). It is also not very small, a bit smaller than Nish.
    It can serve as a SKG alternative LCC airport and also close to Blagoevgrad, where the American University is. A university town.
    Also all the northern Greeks can use it too.

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  34. how much Skopje had alone in 2018?

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  35. Zdravo svima i Srecna NOVA Godina 2019,za aerodrom Ohrid i grad Ohrid potreban je jos jedan zastitni plan za konzervaciju ciste prirodne vode Ohridskog jezera i detaljni akcioni plan za zastitu cistog vazduha iznad grada Ohrida.Unesco i Evropol ce ponovno da zastite cistu sredinu za grad Ohrid preko neku novu naredbu Ujedinjenih naroda a to se odnosi na sve aviokompanije i vozila koji koriste dizel pogonsko gorivo.Samo automobili na benzin,elektricne i novi avioni su prihvatljivi u razumnom broju da nisu previse.Zelim svima uspjesnu godinu sa puno dobrih vjesti.

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  36. najpametan poteg za uspjesan rast i razvoj svih aviokompanija koji lete za makedoniju bi bilo kad bi uvecali mjesečna neto plaća za vazduholovnu navigaciju, i da budu razumni i da ne zagadjuju previse vazduh i okolis zasticenih podrucja,za dasvi budemo zdravi i da imamo bar jedno mjesto za odmor sa izuzetno cistim vazduhom.

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  37. Well done Skopje and Ohrid. Hope the great results keep on coming.

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