The reconstruction of the two Macedonian airports and introduction of new flights operated by low-cost carriers, has brought livelihood to the air services of the Republic of Macedonia
Interview with Dejan Mojsoski, Director General of the Civil Aviation Agency (CAA)
Taking into consideration the perquisites granted by the State to tourism and airlines, it is realistic to expect for the future an accelerated increase of the number of passengers departing from the domestic airports. The current situation of air travel in the country and the expectation for the upcoming time are just a part of the issues that we discuss with Mr. Dejan Mojsoski, Director General of the Civil Aviation Agency (CAA).
The air services growth and increase of the number of passengers seem to have been a long-lasting wish in this country, which appears to have come true in the course of last year and the beginning of the current one…
– The statistics of the air services in our country for 2012 show an eight percent increase of operations at the two airports – Skopje and Ohrid. Furthermore, the latest figures for 2013 show a 7,3 percent growth in respect of the last year records, while the number of scheduled flights has increased by 21, 5 percent. This is an extremely good indicator for the Civil Aviation Agency, considering our efforts for liberalization of air services and targeting of new air carriers, especially among the low-cost ones. It is also very important for us that the quality of the services rendered has increased, while the costs of the air tickets paid by the Macedonian passengers travelling from Skopje and Ohrid to various destinations of previously established routes have decreased. It is significant also for us that besides the European destinations, air services have been established to Dubai, with the frequencies in regard to the Summer Season increasing from two to four flights a week, indicating its utilization as a good connection for travel to Australia, thus providing cheaper and faster travel of the Diaspora to the homeland.
Still, the desired number of million passengers has not been achieved yet. Can we expect that for the current year?
– Last year we almost achieved the desired number of one million passengers, but we expect that to happen considering the tendencies I already mentioned, the appearance of new airlines on the market, as well as the decrease of the air tickets prices and the overall boost of air travel interest. It is worth mentioning that the subsidies granted by the Government to Wizz Air have resulted in introducing of two new destinations, in addition to the previous eight. This means that the enlargement of the number of destinations and the lowering of the air tickets prices are expected to give rise to achieving a number of passengers exceeding one million. We estimate that every Macedonian citizen would travel by air at least once a year, and that by 2016, or maybe sooner, we will reach the number of two million passengers, which would be an excellent result for us and most certainly a success and pleasure for the country in general.
In which way, the CAA as an aeronautical authority is involved in the Government activities for targeting low-cost carriers and further connecting of the Republic of Macedonia by air with various countries and world destinations?
– We are most certainly committed to attracting as much as possible air carriers to fly to/from the Republic of Macedonia. It is a major challenge for us. In this regard, we have taken a series of measures in terms of reducing the administrative barriers and liberalization of air services, as well as elimination of barriers that still exist even within EU member states. We work hard and participate in all international organizations where the Republic of Macedonia can be promoted in this field and we tend to conclude international agreements on air services as much as possible in order to provide legal frameworks for introducing new air carriers. We remain consistent to this strategy, with special consideration to stimulate access of low-cost carriers, which are also targeted by our strategic partner, the Government, within its economic strategy. So, we remain unison in that regard i.e. that we need to have as many airlines operating to and from the Republic of Macedonia as possible by opening the aviation market at all levels.
Many of our overseas emigrants hope for direct flights between Macedonia and the American and the Australian continents. What has been done in this regard?
– One of the primary strategies established by the CAA is the possibility for launching inter-continental air services. As you know, we have signed Air Services Agreements with the USA, Australia and Singapore i.e. with all the countries that are in favor of open skies policies. We are currently working on concluding an Air Services Agreement with Canada, and we plan to have direct flights between these countries and the Republic of Macedonia. In this regard, we are considering several options, like establishment of a route comprising Canada-America and Macedonia and v.v., or a route that would include a connection as well, considering that there is no capacity or potential of the aviation market for a single route that would be with the same intensity throughout the entire year. However, we are working on covering the peak periods within the summer and the winter seasons, the time when the Diaspora usually travels home. We are developing analyses, working together with the civil aviation authorities of these countries and we are engaged in promotion of the Republic of Macedonia before the airlines in order to encourage them with our renewed infrastructure , i.e. the new Skopje airport constructed by TAV that provides technical and operational conditions for such operations that is obviously very complex and requires full dedication in terms of the provision of security as well as covering of the commercial aspects of the air transportation.
M-NAV, the Macedonian air traffic control which used to be a part of the CAA most definitely plays an important role. Being separated now, how do you execute your duties?
– With the separation that took place in July 2009, the former Civil Aviation Agency was divided into two entities – the air traffic control or the navigation services provider, M-NAV became a separate body. One of the major issues or pressures faced by the Macedonian navigation system is the closure of the Kosovo upper air space. Therefore, its performances are diminished due to the partition of the flow of aircraft that used to overfly the Republic of Macedonia and now are forced to bypass this air space. This has resulted in creation of a buffer zone and congestion above the Serbian territory and the Kosovo border, and these are the reasons for the existing problems which are merely of operational nature. As regards to the manner of provision of air navigation services, we have found no weaknesses as all the safety standards are fully applied. We oversee the situation regularly, issue reports to the EUROCONTROL on a regular basis, and we participate in all the bodies in charge with air navigation safety, and we intend to continue doing so. In terms of our relations with the M-NAV, we can say that they are quite consistent. As you know, the Statute of M-NAV provides that the Government is the major decision maker for this institution. This means that all the bodies within this entity are obligated to honor the decisions of the Government and the strategy regarding air services i.e. the goals of the Republic of Macedonia – improvement of the quality of services and of the overall image of air transportation of the Republic of Macedonia.