December 22 (SeeNews) - North Macedonia will provide financial incentives to airlines that will introduce new flights from its international airports between January 2023 and December 2025, transport minister Blagoj Bochvarski said.
The government will provide airlines with subsidies of 7 euro ($7.5) per passenger on each flight from Skopje airport and 4.5 euro per passenger for every flight from Ohrid airport, Bochvarski said during a press conference on Tuesday.
The project's main goal is to increase air traffic in North Macedonia and make it easier to connect the country to destinations across Europe, and even beyond, by using the full capacity of the airports in Skopje and Ohrid, Bochvarski said.
Airlines interested in applying should be based in Europe. They must have carried at least 10 million passengers in 2019, and booked a profit of at least 25 million euro in the same year. The airlines also have to commit to operate the new routes for at least two to three years after 2025, otherwise, they will have to repay the subsidies.
The deadline for submitting applications is January 19, 2023, according to the public call published on the website of the transport ministry.
Bochvarski noted that this is a new subsidy model, which aims to include as many airlines as possible, in order to expand the number of destinations served from North Macedonia. The government has earmarked 1.1 million euro in the next year's budget to finance the subsidy scheme.
Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air has won all three previous tenders, being the only airline to apply.
Wizz Air dominates North Macedonia’s aviation sector with a share of over 60% in the number of passengers. The carrier will reduce capacity at its Skopje base over the winter season, according to earlier data.
Passenger numbers at North Macedonia’s international airports in Skopje and Ohrid reached 2.19 million in the eleven months through November, up 74% compared with the same period of last year, according to latest data by Aeroports de Paris (ADP), which owns 46% of Turkey’s TAV Airports, the company operating the two airports. In the twelve months through November, passenger traffic rose 78% year-on-year to 2.3 million.
($ = 0.940 euro)