|Both Skopje and Ohrid airports are operated on a 20 year management contract by the Turkish airport operator TAV. The same company is also in the process of constructing an airport and cargo terminal in the eastern Macedonian city of Štip.|
While some UK airports are named after footballers and pop stars (George Best in Belfast and John Lennon in Liverpool), the two main airports in Macedonia (or the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia as the United Nations prefers) are named after great historical figures. The airport serving the capital city of Skopje is referred to as Skopje Alexander The Great Airport while Ohrid now operates under the grand title of Ohrid St. Paul The Apostle Airport.
Passenger traffic at the country’s two major airports has grown by over 20% during the last three years with Skopje being the main beneficiary. Around a quarter of Macedonia’s 2.1 million people live in Skopje, which is by far the country’s biggest city.
|Lots of building: Passenger numbers at Skopje have increased by more than 20% since the airport got its new, grand name in late 2006.|
|Source: Airports of Macedonia|
The traffic peaks in 1999-2000 can be attributed to the complex local situation involving major conflict in some of the neighbouring regions. Now Macedonia, an independent country since 1991, is developing its tourism to attract more inbound traffic supported by a major global TV advertising campaign.
Confusion surrounds national carrier, MAT Macedonian
Macedonia has had problems establishing a reliable national carrier. The first attempt, Avioimpex, was operational between 1992 and 2002 while MAT Macedonian Airlines, formed in 1994, appears to have ceased its own operations this summer, though the airline’s website is still advertising global connections with Austrian and Swiss via Vienna and Zurich. In 2008 around one-third of Skopje’s traffic was handled by MAT Macedonian which was operating at least one 737-500 and a CRJ 900.
|Jat acting director general Sasa Vlaisavljevic and MAT president Zlatko Petrovski sign an “Intention Agreement” to find the best business solution for the future cooperation.|
The airline’s own flights appear to have operated until the end of this April. Just before this, in mid-April, MAT and Jat Airways from neighbouring Serbia signed the “Intention Agreement” on finding the best business solution for the future cooperation between the two national carriers of Macedonia and Serbia.
In 2008 MAT operated over 3,000 flights carrying over 215,000 passengers at an average load factor of 71%, up two percentage points on 2007. MAT had grown its passenger numbers by over 35% in 2007 before seeing demand fall by 4% in 2008.
Austrian’s double-daily link to Vienna hub
Several European cities are connected to Skopje with double-daily flights including Belgrade (Jat Airways), Budapest (Malev), Ljubljana (Adria Airways), Vienna (Austrian) and Zurich (Helvetic). There are currently no scheduled non-stop flights to the UK, France or Italy. Neither are there connections to either of Lufthansa’s hubs in Frankfurt or Munich. However, there are low-cost services to Cologne/Bonn provided by germanwings. MAT did operate flights to Berlin, Düsseldorf and Hamburg, but these were halted at the end of 2008 by Eurocontrol who banned the airline from using German airspace due to unpaid air traffic control fees.
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 3 August 2009|
In terms of leading country markets by seat capacity Skopje has an unusual top 10 with Turkey, Austria and Serbia leading the way for scheduled services during the peak summer month.
|When MAT had planes: Sadly this gorgeous CRJ 900, used on routes to Germany and Switzerland, has now been sent back. According to the airline: “The secret of flying is not only to overcome distances but primarily to be closer to yourself.” (What???)|