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Last December the European Union approved visa free travel to most Schengen Zone countries within the European Union for Macedonian, Serbian and Montenegrin passport holders.

As a result, airports in the region have recorded an increase in passenger numbers, aircraft movement and profits. However, both Skopje and Ohrid airports in Macedonia have recorded a minimal passenger increase and no low cost airline has begun operations to and from the country.

Since the visa liberalisation and TAV’s takeover of Skopje and Ohrid airports, the number of flights from Macedonia has increased 10%, even though the management projected an increase of around 30 to 40%, the ”Utrinski Vesnik” newspaper reports. There are still no low cost flights to and from the country either, and Macedonians find it cheaper to travel to Belgrade, Sofia, Priština or Thessaloniki, from where they can use no frills airlines. The publication cites examples of ticket prices from Skopje to some destinations in Western Europe and compares them to the prices of budget airlines in the region. For example, a return ticket from Skopje to Vienna costs around 400 Euros, while from Sofia, it is only around 70 Euros. A return ticket from Skopje to Vienna on Austrian Airlines amounts to approximately 259 Euro. On the other hand, a return ticket between Montenegro’s capital Podgorica and Vienna amounts to approximately 100 Euros.

Experts believe that low cost airlines will commence flights to Skopje after the new terminal at Alexander the Great Airport in Skopje is completed. Construction of the terminal building began 3 months ago and it is that it will be completed by the end of next year. Another reason for the absence of low cost airlines on the Macedonian market is that it is too small, the newspaper noted.

Skopje Airport is currently served by nine scheduled airlines. B&H Airlines will commence flights to the Macedonian capital in November.

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