North Macedonia: Lufthansa, Wizz Air Secure Subsidies
Five routes will be launched from Skopje International Airport to European destinations as part of the subsidy scheme.
Lufthansa and Wizz Air will launch a combined five new routes from North Macedonia’s capital Skopje following their successful application for government subsidies. The services will provide connections from Skopje International Airport to destinations in Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, and Slovenia.
The government of North Macedonia announced in December that it would offer incentives to airlines that introduce flights from Skopje and Ohrid between January 2023 and December 2025. Wizz Air won all three previous tenders as the only carrier to apply.
Following the latest tender, Lufthansa will establish a link to Frankfurt, operating 10 times per week using a mix of Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft. Wizz plans to launch four routes from Nov. 1, connecting Skopje with Ljubljana, Luxembourg, Salzburg and Stuttgart. Each city will receive three flights per week.
North Macedonia’s subsidy scheme will provide €7 ($7.70) per departing passenger transported from Skopje International Airport. The government said the carriers will be obligated to continue operating the routes after the subsidies end.
"Our commitment as the government is to provide quality services with a wider range of destinations for citizens. The data shows that in 2022 we will have transported over 2.3 million passengers through our two international airports,” North Macedonian Transport Minister Blagoj Boçvarski says.
Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski adds that the Frankfurt route is significant, as passengers will be able to transfer to more than 200 destinations worldwide.
Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that while the defunct Slovenian flag-carrier Adria Airways offered a Skopje-Ljubljana route until its demise in October 2019, the other four destinations have not previously been served from North Macedonia.
In a similar move, Slovenia’s government this month issued a call for the launch of new subsidized air services, with $16.8 million allocated to the program over three years. The government will offer subsidies to carriers launching routes or increasing capacity from Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Madrid, Prague, Vienna and Skopje.
If funds remain after the first tender, connections to Barcelona, Lisbon, Oslo, Paris, Pristina, Rome and Stockholm will be added to the list. Carriers can submit applications until May 4.
This article was originally published on aviationweek.com.