Skopje, 14th June 2012 (MIA) – As of November, Macedonian citizens will be able to fly from Alexander the Great Airport in Skopje to six new destinations, at low costs of at least EUR 9.99 one way, to be offered by the Hungarian airline Wizz Air with Government’s subsidies.
This was announced at Thursday’s press conference by Minister of Transport and Communications Mile Janakievski and Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Zoran Stavreski and Vice Prime Minister in charge of Economic Affairs Vladimir Pesevski, presenting the Government’s decision to subsidize Wizz Air, an airline wining the tender procedure for awarding financial support aimed at encouraging and developing the air traffic. As for the tender announced in May this year, three companies submitted documents, however only Wizz Air submitted offer and fulfilled the criteria.
Wizz Air, as airline to obtain subsidizes in a period of three years, as of 28th October, should launch flights twice a week to Milan, Eindhoven, Dortmund and Munch, as of 29th October, flights to Malmo twice a week, as well as flight to Basel three times a week as of 30th October. Airline also offered alternative destination for flying to Brussels, which might develop in the next period. On annual basis, around 250,000 are expected by the introduction of new flights. Wizz Air is obliged, by the end of this year at the latest, to establish base of at least one airplane at Alexander the Great Airport and to maintain it in a period of three years in line with the concluded agreement.
According to the Vice Prime Minister in charge of Economic Affairs Pesevski, the subsidizing of the flights is one of the projects for increasing both the traffic at the airports in Skopje and Ohrid and the number of tourists. – Not only the tourists but also the Macedonian citizens will benefit from this measure since it will offer flights at really low costs. During the discussions, Wizz Air announced that the prices of the tickets will start with EUR 9.99 one way. I suppose that they will also include additional fees, however, in any case, it is a matter of exceptionally low costs, Pesevski said.
Expected effects, in line with the criterion for obtaining subsidies, are at least 120,000 new passengers in the first year, i.e. 10,000 passengers per year, at least 135,000 in the second year and at least 150,000 passengers in the third year. – We are assured that these figures are minimum since, in real terms, we expect to obtain around 250,000 passengers on annual basis, since, Alexander the Great Airport will for the first time be set as basis for one of their airplanes. This is a key step for a company to be significantly present in a given country. During the discussions, the company representatives announced that there will be more than 1 airplane in future. Thus, the airport, as one of the most modern airports in the region, will be of even greater importance, Pesevski said.
He assessed that effects from the reconstruction of the airports have been already felt. Starting 2012 compared to 2010, number of passengers in the airports in Skopje and Ohrid, increased by 15%, and in the first four months of this year, they increased by 22% compared to the same period last year.
This year, Government allocated Denar 75 million for subsidizing airlines that will offer more competitive and lower prices in the air traffic, and by the end of 2014, Denar 306 million is planned for this purpose. Subsidizing is carried out on the basis of two models, introducing new destinations and increasing the number of passengers. As for introduction of new destinations, one-off financial support in the amount of EUR 40.000 for each of the first six new destinations is envisaged, and there is one-off financial support in the amount of EUR 30,000 for each next new destination. With respect to the number of passengers, there is EUR 9 subsidies per departing passenger in the first year of the contract, EUR 8 subsidies per departing passenger in the second year and EUR 7 subsidies per departing passenger in the third year.
– Airlines already flying from and to the airports in Macedonia can apply for this model of subsidies. I believe such way of subsidizing will contribute to realizing the goal and that is for Macedonia to justify the epithet of being a cross-road on the Balkans and benefit from this favourable location, Vice Prime Minister Stavreski said.
Minister of Transport, answered to a journalist’s question that Macedonia has a legal possibility for national airline, however the Government was not interested therein at the moment. Comparative analyses form the region show that part of these airlines are facing difficult financial problems, and part of them have even gone bankrupt. We believe this is the best way to attract more passengers and low cost plane tickets, Janakievski emphasized.
According to him, it is possible, by the end of the year at the latest, to have present one more supplier of kerosene, for which there are ongoing negotiations with many renowned international companies.
Subsidizing the flights, Vice Prime Minister Pesevski claims, is not of assistance to the airport concessionaire Turkish TAV, but it is rather to the citizens, being provided the possibility for low-cost flights. However, the concessionaire itself contributed a lot to the whole process by reducing the cost for more than 50%.
– Both parties bear the costs for this project. However, Macedonia was treated as special destination for many years, and we faced connection-related problems, therefore we have those early morning flights so as to reach certain destination in the region and to continue the trip therefrom, Pesevski pointed out.