Interview for MIA


Liberalization of air space and creating high-quality legal frameworks in the bilateral cooperation with numerous European countries open the possibility for continuous entry of new air carriers in the Macedonian market. The Civil Aviation Agency (CAA) as an institution is fully dedicated to swift and efficient response to their requests in accordance with the positive legal acts. The CAA maintains regular communication with many entities interested to introduce new routes from and to the Macedonian airports, presenting favorable conditions and possibilities for development of the airline business in the country, says Tomislav Tuntev, Director General of the CAA in an interview for MIA.

Reviewing the achievements in air transport in the last year he emphasizes that the number of passengers at Macedonian airports has surpassed 2,5 million and in average each month 15.000 flights are performed over the Macedonian sky, 10 new travel destinations have been added from the Skopje and Ohrid airports, cargo transport has a growth of 30 percent…

Tuntev presents the planned activities of the CAA for the next year, explains the reasons for the preparation of the new Aviation Act, speaks about harmonization of international aviation standards. He also announces activities for promoting aviation with a major air show in Skopje, as a part of the anniversaries which will be celebrated during the next year marking 90 years from the first international flight at the Skopje airport, 50 years from the opening of a contemporary international airport in Ohrid and 25 years from establishing the Macedonian civil aviation authorities.

How do you assess last year in terms of development of air transport in the country and what will be the focus of activities of the CAA for the next year?

In the last year air transport in the country achieved a record high level of development. In average, each month 15 000 flight are performed in the Macedonian sky and in the peak periods of traffic load the number of overflights in one day surpasses 1000 operations. At both Macedonian international airports ground-handling services are provided to more than 2,5 million passengers annually and this number is increasing on a daily basis. In the course of this year 15 air carriers operated at the Skopje airport, connecting it with 42 attractive destinations, while the aircraft of 13 air carriers flew at 20 European destinations at the Ohrid airport.

The continuation of the state aid policy for the flights of low-cost air carriers and the introduction of new destinations resulted in an enormous increase of the number of transported passengers and performed take offs and landings of aircraft. Expressed in percentage, such increase has values in two digits-at Skopje airport it is around 10 percentage, while at the Ohrid airport it surpasses the number of 60 percent. The situation with transport of cargo is similar, where the annual growth is more than 30 percent. Only in the last year 10 new destinations have been introduced in the flight schedule. All this creates an essential need for development, realization and implementation of new projects and activities, which will enable full integration of the Macedonian air transport system in the European aviation transport network. The role and task of the CAA is to provide conditions and possibilities for such development.

The Macedonian air transport system should be equal and respectable partner in the family of contemporary European and world entities in the aviation industry. There is no sound and intensive economic development without operational, efficient, safe and sustainable air transport. In the next year the CAA will continue to ensure that the air transport will enable increased number of transported passengers and cargo at the Macedonian airports, increased number of overflights of aircraft in the Macedonian airspace, connections with an even greater number of European and world destinations, strengthening the protection of air passenger rights, intensifying the sports-recreational aviation activities, greater environmental protection and higher level of air transport safety in the Macedonian sky.

The Civil Aviation Agency has recently become a part of a Twinning project aimed at using Croatian experience to improve the standards in accordance with the European Common Aviation Area which have already been met by the other countries in the region. What does the full implementation of these standards mean and what is our position in relation to meeting the responsibilities for membership in all international aviation organizations?

The full implementation of the standards resulting from the European Common Aviation Area Agreement will ensure, above all, a sustainable development of civil aviation in the Republic of North Macedonia. Through implementation of activities envisaged with the Twinning project in the field of airworthiness, licensing, flight operations and aerodromes, harmonization of the national regulatory framework with the regulations of ICAO and EU will be achieved.

At the same time, the operational capacity of the Civil Aviation Agency for implementation of EU acquis will be strengthened through development of working procedures and guidance materials. In addition, the technical capacity of CAA employees carrying out safety oversight of the air transport industry will be improved in accordance with the safety requirements of ICAO and EU. This will create conditions for equal membership of our country in the European aviation family.

Additional investments by the TAV concessionaire at the Ohrid and Skopje airports have been announced, among other issues, also in relation to expanding capacities, taking into account the increased number of passengers. In that sense, can we expect entry of new air carriers, possible re-consideration of the topic of a national air carrier…

All entities in the air transport system should respond to the contemporary requirements and challenges and the objective is to ensure safe, orderly, efficient and environmentally sustainable transport of people and cargo, in accordance with the high-level criteria resulting from the international standards and recommendations. In addition, all our citizens deserve to have a safe, cost-efficient and easily available air transport, which will allow for more travels to attractive European and worldwide destinations. The airport concessionaire should continuously work on raising the quality of airport services and therefore it is necessary to invest in reconstruction and upgrading of airport infrastructure. In this phase it is not a matter of additional investments, but also completion of the fulfillment of the obligations of TAV Macedonia deriving from the concession agreement. Namely, with the announced amendments of the Law on concessions and public-private partnership, conditions will be created for re-allocation of a part of the funds in infrastructure investments of public interest, if the expert analysis shows that the initially agreed investment in certain projects is not economically feasible any more. This will enable a part of the funds of the concession agreement to be invested in reconstruction, rehabilitation and expansion of the existing airport infrastructure capacities.

On the other side, the liberalization of air space and the creation of quality legal frameworks in the bilateral cooperation with many European countries open the possibility for permanent entry of new air carriers on the Macedonian market. The CAA, as an institution, is fully dedicated to swiftly and efficiently respond to their requests in accordance with the positive legal regulations. In addition, the CAA maintains regular communication with many entities interested in introducing new routes from and to the Macedonian airports, presenting the favorable conditions and possibilities for development of the airline business in the country.

In relation to the issue for establishing a national air carrier I must re-affirm my personal opinion that at this moment there are no economically feasible performance and financial potentials, i.e., there is no economical feasibility for development of such an outdated concept. Namely, the results of the conducted expert research, analysis and feasibility studies in the country, as well as the comparative experiences from the examples of all states in the region, show realistic unsurmountable operational difficulties of the air carriers, serious financial challenges for the state, non-competitiveness of the air transport market and necessity for a continuous state intervention, in spite of the contemporary approach in EU, supporting market values and loyal competition in provision of air services.

Nevertheless, if a serious investor in the field of air transport shows interest for entering into the international market with contemporary aircraft in the Macedonian registry and if the state recognizes economical interest for mutual investment or another type of public-private partnership in the airline business, the CAA will be fully prepared to realize all the necessary activities within its responsibilities in order to make that possible.

Currently a new Aviation Act is being prepared. Why is a new act being adopted and what are the key provisions?

In accordance with the undertaken responsibilities from the ratified international agreements, as well as with the membership in various international organizations in the field of aviation, a need appears for continuous harmonization of the Aviation Act and the relevant by-laws resulting from it.

The new Basic Regulation and the relevant implementing rules that we have to comply with in accordance with the multilateral European Common Aviation Area bring changes to several aspects in different aviation areas. For example, the Corporate Air Operation Certificate and the Aerial Work Certificate are being revoked. Furthermore, it is envisaged that the exams for obtaining licences of airplane and helicopter pilots, air traffic controllers and some other categories of aviation personnel are not carried out in the CAA. In addition, special authorizations for examiners for conducting these exams are established etc.

Due to that reason in order to create or change the existing legal grounds, there is a need for extensive amendments of the current regulations. On the other side, the main wording of the Aviation Act has been enacted in 2006 and since then it has been amended 14 times. We already have remarks that it is difficult to follow the numerous amendments. Therefore, in order to provide easier application of the Act by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the CAA and all entities from the aviation industry, the need arises to prepare a new, more applicable relevant wording.

What kind of activities do you undertake for the promotion of aviation, as a part of the CAA’s mission?

The Civil Aviation Agency organized several events to mark the international day of civil aviation, 7th December, as an exceptionally important date for celebrating 75 years from the establishing of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The last in the sequence of activities was raising the ICAO flag at the flagpole in front of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which once again, symbolically demonstrated the firm decision of the competent institutions for consistent implementation of the international standards, recommendations and positive practices in the field of air transport.

Our country became a full member of ICAO immediately after gaining its independence, i.e. after it was admitted into the UN in 1993. The CAA, as a part of the world family of civil aviation authorities remains compliant with the principles for affirmation of the national civil aviation as a fast, efficient, safe, secure and environmentally sustainable air transport.

The following year is important for the history of Macedonian aviation – it includes marking of the 90 years anniversary of the first international flight at the Skopje airport, 50 years from opening a contemporary international airport in Ohrid and 25 years from establishing the Macedonian civil aviation authorities. Those are important anniversaries for the development of aviation in Macedonia, which should be celebrated in a worthy manner.

Their marking and celebration will be an excellent opportunity for promotion of aviation, especially for the youngest population, but also for a more intensive development of all aviation activities. For that purpose, we plan to organize many events and ceremonies, which will mark these important anniversaries.

Among the other numerous activities in the course of the year, a major air show will be held in the beginning of September at the Skopje airport, including the participation of a great number of established national and foreign participants from different aviation areas, which will be a unique experience of that kind for all aviation fans in our country and which we hope will also capture the attention of the wider public.