The operator of Macedonia’s two international airports, TAV Macedonia, is prepared to provide support for the introduction of nonstop flights to North America. The company’s newly appointed General Manager, Nejat Kurt, told the “Lokalno” portal, “Skopje Airport is ready to serve intercontinental flights and we would support any airline that is ready to establish the first nonstop service to North America. Currently, our diaspora travels to North America by transferring through airports in Istanbul, Belgrade, Vienna, Warsaw and Frankfurt, the latter being added as a new destination this year”. So far, Istanbul has proven as the busiest transfer point for Skopje travellers heading to or from the United States.
Based on data by global travel provider OAG, the United States is Skopje Airport’s busiest unserved market, with New York being one of the Macedonian capital’s busiest unserved routes. Chicago is Skopje’s second busiest unserved destination in the States, followed by Miami, Detroit and Washington. Prior to the pandemic, Skopje Airport’s operator said, “Skopje Airport is operationally capable to handle such transatlantic flights and ready to support carriers which would consider operating. A nonstop flight to North America would lead to additional feeder flights from the Balkan region to Skopje. The airport would attract many passengers from surrounding countries”. Over 40.000 passengers originating from Skopje travel to North American destinations each year.
Skopje Airport has previously attempted to secure flights to New York. In 2017 it submitted a joint proposal with the Macedonian government for Turkish Airlines to introduce services to the United States via Skopje. Macedonia and Turkey have an Open Skies Agreement in place with both the United States and Canada, which permits for a Turkish carrier to be issued fifth freedom rights by regulators from all parties involved. At the time, Turkish Airlines said it would study the proposal and expressed interest in the potential service. “Turkish Airlines is one of the world’s leading carriers. We believe that there is a chance that, for the first time, Skopje could have an intercontinental service that would cover the needs of Macedonians living abroad. It would also greatly increase passenger numbers at Skopje Airport and would help turn it into a regional hub”, the Macedonian government said at the time.