Macedonia rules out new national carrier


The Macedonian government has reaffirmed it has no plans to establish a new national airline, a decade on since the collapse of MAT Macedonian Airlines. The incumbent government mulled the possibility of establishing a new flag carrier at the start of its mandate several years ago but has decided against it. Instead, it inked a new three-year subsidy agreement with Wizz Air this January for the introduction of new routes. The financial support included a one-time payment of 40.000 euros for each new destination launched, as well as nine euros per passengers for each new route from Skopje for the first year, eight euros during the second year and seven during the third. On the other hand, the carrier is receiving thirteen euros per passenger during the first year of operations on each new destination out of Ohrid, twelve during the second and eleven euros per traveller in the third year.

The head of the North Macedonia Civil Aviation Agency, Tomislav Tuntev, said establishing a new national airline would be unviable. “I must reaffirm my personal opinion that that there is no economically viable justification for developing such an outdated concept at this time. Our expert research, analysis and feasibility studies, as well as comparative experiences from countries in the region, have shown that such an airline would find itself in operational difficulties, pose a financial burden on the state, and result in a lack of competitiveness on the aviation market due to the necessity for continued state interventionism, in spite of the existing European Union policies in support of fair competition”. However, Mr Tuntev noted the Agency would provide support if a private investor would be interested in registering aircraft in Macedonia or establish an airline in the form of a public - private partnership if the state saw an economic interest in such a venture.

Since the 1990s, Macedonia has had two national carriers, both of which subsequently declared bankruptcy. Palair Macedonian Airlines was founded in 1991 as the country’s national airline but was hit by local competition with the creation of MAT Macedonian Airlines in 1994. As a result, it ceased flying in 1996. MAT was formed in cooperation between JAT Yugoslav Airlines and local businessmen. In 2000, the Macedonian government declared MAT the country’s national carrier owned by two private stakeholders. However, mounting debt, as well as political wrangling, saw MAT cease operations in September 2009. MAT’s demise was followed by an attempt to relaunch the airline as Mat Airways several years later, however, it too failed. Based on its latest financial report, Air Serbia has a 100% stake in a company registered in Macedonia, named AeroMak, however, it is currently inactive. Its predecessor Jat Airways planned to establish an airline under the name in late 2009 but shelved them months later.




Comments

  1. Thank goodness.

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  2. I actually think there is enough space for a national airline. LCC attract a completely different market. If they took out two regional jets I think a new national airline could work.

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    1. Are you serious? Wizz has over 60% of the market. No one is going to be able to compete against that.

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    2. +1000

      Many countries in the region can do it so why can't we? In Serbia you have JU and W6. In Bulgaria you have FB, FR and W6. In Greece you have A3 and FR... but not here, we only have W6 that controls 70%+ of the market and is constantly increasing prices.

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    3. Anon 09.06

      Now that JP is gone, Wizz monopoly in SKP is getting close to 75%

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    4. Merry Christmas to all! @ANONYMOUS 9:07am I think that there is a big difference from one market to the other. The presence of LCC depends on it. For example look at the network of FR from Athens and W6 from Belgrade, there is a big difference. Look at the numbers of LCC that serving Athens and Belgrade, again big difference. A3 is a private owned company but they have an excellent management. If JU hadn't the protection from the state, well I don't know if they could survive the same as A3.

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    5. Micro airline with 2 aircraft - yep, that will work.

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    6. anon 9.08: JP had only 2-2,5% of the market in SKP, so not a big deal. Their connecting pax are being taken over mostly by OS and to a less amount OU and JU

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    7. @9.08 actually their passenger share for first Q1-Q3 was 62.2%.
      Source: https://www.exyuaviation.com/2019/11/wizz-air-grows-dominance-in-skopje.html

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  3. It is such a pity that MAT was practically destroyed by the government even though it was a private airline but served the interests of the country. And for what? So space could be made for Wizz Air. As if it could not take MAT by itself without issue.

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    1. It was destroyed because it would have been difficult to explain to the public why subsidies and money was being given to a Hungarian company and not a Macedonian one whose entire staff was local and who paid taxes in the country. They waited for the 10 years national carrier certificate to expire and then the former general director of the aviation directorate did his work.

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    2. I doubt that Wizz Air existed at the time MAT was closed. I am happy that both current (SDSM) and former (VMRO) governments agree for at least one issue. The age of flag carriers has gone. Of course there are still legacy airlines that burn government money. And there is LH that owns (at least) flag carriers from (at least) 3 countries. What kind of flag carriers are Austrian ans Swiss? (FAOD They are fine airlines, and I like to travel with them, but they were not able to survive on their own as national carriers. Now was Adria, nor are (in aplhabetical order) Bosnian, Croatia, Monte Negro, Serbian...

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    3. Wizz Air has existed since 2003 and started flying from Skopje in 2011.

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    4. Thank you for information. So Wizzair did exist, but did not yet fly to Skopje.

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  4. We are stuck with Wizz.

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    1. It could be much worse. Wizz Air has generated significant growth for SKP & OHD. It's hardly a bad situation.

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  5. Good. Why waste tax payers money?

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    1. Macedonia invested nothing in MAT as it was practically a private airline given a contract to act as a national carrier for 10 years (until 2010). Had our government invested 50% of the money it has given to Wizz Air it could have developed into a respectable company. It had a decent route network and service.

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    2. True, government didn’t spend a cent. Well, now tax payer money is going to a foreign company whose airline transport is looking a lot more like a budget bus transport.

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  6. Still love that MAT livery :)

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    1. Yes! I loved MAT livery, Macedonian flag looked good on both B737 and CRJ900 tail.

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    2. It was based on JAT's 90s livery. Came from the same designers.

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    3. MAT Macedonian Airlines livery resembles British Airways present livery, doesn't it?

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    4. @ 9.14 on the Embraer too :)

      https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-SypRqaRDtDw/U8drEpuzc5I/AAAAAAAANQQ/hCyV9q6f0UA/s1600/mat.jpg

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    5. Yes it looked really nice on all plane types. DC9 included.

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  7. So many European countries don't have national airlines and they are doing absolutely fine. Why would we need one?

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    1. I agree that Macedonia might not need a national carrier, but it certainly does need better connections to important hubs such as Frankfurt, London, Paris without the extra step of transferring through ZAG, LJU, BEG or VIE.

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    2. W6 have, very well, covered the most important destinations to DE, CH and Scandinavia.

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    3. @9.16 LJU is definitely no longer a transfer option :D

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    4. Because i need a connection via LHR and i dint have a UK visa😂.

      But besides that, trans Atlantic flights to destinations other than JFK, ORD, Logan, and Toronto are a complete mess and flying to second tier cities in the US and canada, and beyond is as well. After the indigo takeover of WOW failed, and norwegians boeing conundrum, i really cant see cheap connections overseas anytime soon.

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    5. There are a lot of destinations that should still be covered from SKP. In my opinion they are FCO, AMS, CDG, FRA, MUC, LHR and MAD.

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  8. I agree with Tuntev

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    1. he seams the most reasonable CAA director we ever had

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    2. True. Well said on his behalf.

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  9. Macedonia definitely does not needs a state carrier.

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  10. No need for national airline but please give subsidies to another LCC. Wizzair shouldn't be granted with this benefits anymore because of the monopoly danger.

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    1. I agree with you. I like Wizz Air, and I fly most with them, but Skopje just needs another player who bases plane/s in the city (Ryan, Easy, Vueling, Eurowings or Transavia).

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  11. Wizz is already connecting well Macedonia to the rest of Europe.

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  12. Would love to see a Macedonian carrier in the sky again

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  13. What the government should do is force Wizz Air to get a Macedonian AOC!!! About time.

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    1. And what benefit would it be to Macedonia?

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    2. benefits would be flights to Turkey, Switzerland (the two biggest markets from SKP) then Russia, Ukraine, Middle East ........... and Belgrade&Sarajevo :)

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    3. The Turkish passengers use IST as a connection hub, not a destination, and Wizz already flies to Basel daily from SKP and Frequently from OHD.

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    4. "The Turkish passengers use IST as a connection hub not a destination" i dont get this sentence and what it has to do with MK

      Wizz could fly to Istanbul and the coast for a fraction of THY's fares (and cheaper then PG). They could finally start Geneva, one of the most obvious missing destinations from SKP due to not having flight rights

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    5. Who says Wizz Air would fly to all those airports even if they had Macedonian AOC?

      If they would be really interested, they could lobby for bi-lateral agreements.

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    6. They can't lobby to be included in bilateral agreements because they are a Hungarian company. As a Hungarian company they can't be added into a bilateral between Macedonia and Turkey or Macedonia and Russia or Macedonia and Israel.

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    7. That's an awful lot of hassle to enter into two markets that are already served.

      Currently Wizz Air has two AOCs, Hungarian (the original) and UK (due to Brexit), and soon UAE. I'm pretty sure opening a Macedonian to be able to operate two flights already flown by other airlines is extremely unlikely and costly. They haven't turned into one of Europe's leading LCCs by making such irrational decisions.

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  14. A flag carrier in Macedonia would be as profitable as Montenegro's or Bosnia's flag carriers are/were. So not at all.

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    1. I agree. A national airline would have ended up like Montenegro Airlines or BH Airlines. If it were so profitable a private company would have set up an airline.

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    2. @Anonymous 09.29. The same goes for Serbia's and Croatia's.

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    3. Those two can actually be profitable.

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    4. That's questionable.

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  15. I am not a fan of this national airline idea and am glad they have decided against these plans. But I also think that building growth for only one LCC is not a healthy strategy.

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    1. We need a middle matket airline. One that has the no frills experience but can also provide connections. Someone like norwegian

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    2. Well Norwegian is in financial problems so I don't think such a model would be much successful.

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  16. What needs to be done is attract full fare legacy airlines and stimulate them in some way. Not everyone in Macedonia wants to fly with Wizz Air and not everyone in Macedonia want to fly to villages 100km away from the cities being advertised by Wizz.

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    1. If there was a market, they would have already started operations

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    2. Not necessarily. Many airlines, particularly legacy carriers, don't realize full potential of certain markets and don't want to take any risks whatsoever.

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    3. correct, as if there was a SKP-Malta or Växjo market before ...

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  17. Good decision. Just hope they will attract one more LCC to base at least one plane in SKP and the state job is done.

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    1. They may want to attract another LCC but Wizz Air has invested to much in SKP to let anyone on its turf. Remember what happened when Ryanair planned to start flights?

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  18. Absolutely wise decision.

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  19. They should give private capital to open airline without any risk to Macedonia, no need to invest from Macedonia, and they can support that airline same way they support Wizz Air.

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  20. Adria this year was a good example of why you should not set up a national airline.

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    1. FYI Adria was a 100% privately owned airline.

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    2. One of Adria's mistakes was not opening a base in Skopje.

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    3. Adria was 99% government owned airline for decades of its loss-making history.

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  21. Good news for Macedonia that this 'project' won't see the light of day.

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  22. This is good news. We need european integration and more european carriers in SKP!

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  23. Aeromak is a cool name.

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    1. Their logo
      https://media.licdn.com/dms/image/C4D0BAQFiDNMmfbknlw/company-logo_200_200/0?e=2159024400&v=beta&t=OpiIRmsDKe3Ef8HC46tQcQ5uhJf5pVoLSqa0Y8lBUnk

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  24. Macedonia is a small country with a small population. It doesn't need another airline. Why pay for a national airline and tax people money when Wizz Air flights are very good.

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    1. I would understand your argument if the Macedonian government was not paying Wizz Air.

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  25. Does Wizz Air have any plans for further growth in SKP? Will they base a sixth plane there?

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    1. As long as they get more subsidies.... why not?

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    2. It is interesting that as soon as the subsidies were put in question last year, Wizz Air made some routes seasonal and made them year round after they were awarded new subsidies.

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    3. It is a warning of what will happen when they don't get money.

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    4. @11.55 @11.59 conspiracy theories rulez

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    5. Anon 11:59 Its just the reality of SKP, without W6 getting paid

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  26. Air Serbia should station a plane in Skopje and Podgorica.

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    1. will they have the rights to fly to the EU? they will surely have more pax in SKP then in INI. maybe that would be possible with in the Mini Shengen coming

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    2. Since JU is not an EU carrier they could only establish a base and fly if they transferred planes to Aeromak which is registered in Macedonia.

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    3. The best solution is that if Air Serbia would lunch a JV company with Macedonian government in order to become a member of Etihad group. Than it would be much better. To have 5-6 flts to and from BEG and also 5-6 flts to and from SKP to EU.

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    4. but the mini-Schengen will also be a economic union so this might change

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  27. I realise that MAT's (former) CRJ-900 was scrapped after only 9 years in service. Anyone knows why?

    http://www.airfleets.net/ficheapp/plane-crj-15001.htm

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  28. An option is to establish a subsidiary with/from another airline.

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  29. Macedonia did a smart job.
    It managed to develop both of its airports and work well with W6.
    Why the hell does it need an expensive, useless flag carrier paid by the taxpayers?
    Besides, network is heavily German, Turkush and Swiss but this is what the market demands.
    Hoping to see FR step in soon and of course a bit more legacies.

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    1. Wizz Air is also paid by taxpayers. But instead of paying local company, they pay a Hungarian one.

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  30. I can still vividly remember flying IN from VIE to BEG back then in YU's 733. They served a full meal (fish fingers) and were the last carrier in Europe where smoking was still allowed in the back cabin.

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  31. I don't think Macedonia needs a national airline but it would be interesting.

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  32. A national airline could offer destinations that aren’t covered by W6, for example AMS could be a great destination for connecting flights. Do you think this would be a viable option?

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    1. AMS used to be operated by MAT. I'm surprised Transavia has not launched Skopje.

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  33. with W6 present
    a two Embraers fleet coud only fly these routes:

    feeding the big players in FRA, ZRH, VIE, AMS on daily basis
    2-3pw diaspora feeding: DUS, MUC, STR, GVA, LJU
    2-3pw places of interest: PRG, TLV, SVO, LED

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    1. Agree. It could work out. Especially destinations that can't be covered by Wizz Air - Russia being one example.

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  34. I'm not advocating the creation of a new national carrier but there is a reason Macedonia has the worse connectivity in Europe. Mainly because there are so few flights to hub airports. Something really has to be done about this. Primarily by TAV which seems to be enjoying the ride of Wizz Air being subsidized by the state and not doing much to attract major European airlines.

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    1. TAV tried to get Turkish Airlines to set up a base in Skopje at one point, but it never happened.

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    2. Turkish Airlines has had a string of disasters in the region - B&H Airlines and Albania Airlines isn't doing much better either.

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    3. Anon 19:49 Air Albania is doing just fine at the moment

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  35. The best thing would be for Wizz Air to set up Wizz Air Macedonia, register a few planes in Macedonia and this open up the opportunity for them to launch flights to markets like Russia and Israel.

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    1. It will be interesting to see if the planned Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will fly to Skopje. I think they could really give Flydubai a run for their money.

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  36. I Wizz air dominates the market, why not co-brand or codeshare a North Macedonian airline, Eve if the Macedonian counterpart has no real aeroplanes?. ..just go and buy seats on other airline's planes. That is what Wings of the World Airline's did in the USA for nearly 15 years.

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  37. Is the existing airline part of any alliance? If not, that should be pursued regardless. I'll be visiting in a few months and my employer only shops through Star or OW

    If/When the case, it will prove down the road that the gov't in North Macedonia is being wise about this - or better, not stupid/wasteful.

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