Turkish Airlines Macedonia’s only regular carrierThe Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency has confirmed that Turkish Airlines has been given the status of a “regular carrier”, thus granting it numerous privileges over other airlines operating to the country. Experts believe that the regular carrier status is another step towards Turkish becoming Macedonia’s national carrier. Turkish Airlines, which operates daily flights to Skopje, will now have exclusivity over other airlines in selecting destinations as well as landing and handling fee exemptions at Skopje and Ohrid airports. Turkish Airlines is the only to have been granted the status of a regular carrier in Macedonia, with Mat Airways having the status of charter airline until June. TAV has been lobbying since 2010 for Turkish to become Macedonia's national airline.
The former head of Macedonia’s two airports says that the country must have a national carrier because every serious state does. Macedonia has so far had two national airlines, Palair Macedonia and MAT Macedonian Airlines which replaced Palair following its bankruptcy. MAT ceased operations in 2009 upon the order of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency under the pretext of a faulty aircraft. However, the airline was also high in debt. Skopje Airport handled the most passengers in 2000 when it saw over one million passengers and in 1999 when it handled 970.000 passengers. This summer B&H Airlines will launch flights from Sarajevo to the Macedonian capital while Jetairfly will operate seasonal flights from Brussels to both Skopje and Ohrid. The Civil Aviation Agency says there have been no other applications for new flights this summer. ČSA Czech Airlines will terminate flights from Prague on March 24.
Meanwhile, the former head of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency, Zoran Krstevski, who was instrumental in the grounding of MAT, is under investigation on suspicion of corruption. It is believed that Krstevski misused the Agency’s funds and is accused of reckless spending on mobile phone bills and car petrol.