Turkish Airlines in talks on Macedonia expansion
Turkish Airlines held talks with Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Fatmir Bytyqi and a delegation from the country, including airport operator TAV Macedonia, regarding their expansion in the market. Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines, Ahment Bolat, said: “During our meeting with the North Macedonian delegation led by Fatmir Bytiki, Deputy Prime Minister for Economy, we had a productive meeting regarding increasing our flights to Skopje and strengthening our presence in the country with new routes. We thank them for their visit and hope that our cooperation will continue to grow.”
Turkish Airlines is already Macedonia’s busiest incumbent and transfer carrier and has recently bolstered its presence in the country through its lower-cost unit AnadoluJet, which maintains seasonal operations from Antalya and Bodrum to Skopje. However, Turkey has seen increasing competition from its local competitors in the Macedonian market. Pegasus Airlines has increased its capacity between Istanbul and Skopje, as well as a new summer service from Izmir, while several other carriers have launched regular seasonal flights from the Turkish coast, including SunExpress and Corendon Airlines from Antalya. On the other hand, despite its strong appeal to travelers, Ohrid currently has no non-stop flights to Turkey.
Macedonia’s Transport and Communications Ministry previously said it had discussed the possibility of Turkish Airlines also operating transatlantic flights from Skopje, although there has been no progress on the matter since. Macedonia and Turkey have entered into an open skies agreement with the United States and Canada, which allows a Turkish carrier to be granted fifth freedom rights by regulators from all parties involved. “As TAV airports, we actively promote Skopje and Ohrid airports in various fields in order to attract new airlines and expand the route network and the number of passengers. We have always established relations closely with our airline customers through our global airport operations. This is also the case in Macedonia, and we are ready to provide the utmost support to any airline considering a transatlantic flight from Skopje. Skopje Airport is operationally capable of handling such transatlantic flights and ready to support carriers that would consider operating,” TAV Macedonia said at the time.