The Ministry of Transport and Communications in North Macedonia has reported that it received proposals from Aegean Airlines, Lufthansa, and Wizz Air for subsidies aimed at promoting the establishment of new flights to Skopje and Ohrid airports.
The public bidding process, which took place from December 20 to January 26, resulted in the submission of documentation from Aegean Airlines, Lufthansa, and Wizz Air. The Ministry of Transport and Communications stated in a January 27th statement on its website that a commission made up of representatives from various government organizations will review the submitted bids in the near future.
The subsidies, designed in accordance with the fair competition policies of the European Union, aim to promote air traffic growth, improve the quality of civil aviation, offer more competitive and reasonably priced tickets, and provide access to new destinations for North Macedonia’s residents.
Minister of Transport, Blagoj Bochvarski, declared the public call on December 20th and stated that the funds would be distributed over a period of three years, from 2023 to 2025, to attract new airlines. Although Wizz Air has won all three previous tenders, where it was the sole applicant, Bochvarski emphasized that this public call is different and multiple airlines can be selected.
The eligibility criteria to apply include having an AOC issued by a European Union member state, carrying at least 10 million passengers in 2019, and earning a profit of at least 25 million euros in the same year. The support will be determined by the duration of operations, weekly flight frequency, airport popularity, and number of seats available for sale, in that order of priority.
The amount of subsidies granted will be 7 euros per departing passenger from Skopje and 4.50 euros per passenger from Ohrid.
North Macedonia lacks a national scheduled airline. According to the data from the ch-aviation capacities module, Wizz Air currently dominates the traffic at Skopje airport, accounting for 53.68% of the market, and has a base there, offering 25 flights from the capital city. Aegean Airlines operates a single route from Athens, while Lufthansa does not fly to North Macedonia but its subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Edelweiss Air do. These are among the 12 scheduled carriers that serve Skopje during the winter season.
Wizz Air operates three out of the four scheduled routes to Ohrid (from Vienna, Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg, and Dortmund), with the fourth route operated by Chair Airlines from Zurich, Switzerland.
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Flights to Skopje are in demand in the summer season. During the summer season, flights to Skopje may experience higher demand due to the warmer weather and an increase in tourists visiting the area for outdoor activities and vacations.
Additionally, the city may host various events and festivals during the summer months, which can also drive up demand for flights.