Four years following the bankruptcy of MAT Macedonian Airlines, a new national carrier for the country, to be set up by private investors, is in the works. The Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency (CAA) has revealed that two foreign investors are willing to launch a new national carrier, utilising local expertise in the aviation sector which has been hit hard by MAT’s demise. Dejan Mojsoski, the head of the CAA, says he cannot comment on the names of the investors due to a confidentiality agreement but noted that “There is growing interest in the aviation sector in the country. Not only have foreign airlines increased their presence in Macedonia, there is also interest for a locally registered airline to be set up with foreign capital, following the example of Etihad Airways in Serbia”.
MAT Macedonian Airlines suspended flights in 2009 following mounting losses and debt. However, it was the Macedonian Civil Aviation Agency which played an instrumental role in grounding its national carrier and leaving several hundred employees out of work after it deemed MAT’s aircraft unsafe to fly. There have been attempts to relaunch the airline as Mat Airways, however, all have ended in failure. Recently, the Serbian government, as well as Jat Airways’ former CEO Velibor Vukašinović, indicated that Jat’s fleet of retiring Boeing aircraft could be used to establish Aeromak, Jat’s Macedonian registered subsidiary. MAT is Macedonia’s second national carrier to go bust following Palair Macedonian Airlines, which operated in the early 1990s. MAT officially declared bankruptcy in January 2010.
The creation of a new national carrier marks the second phase of the government’s strategy to develop the aviation industry in the country. The first, which included privatising Skopje and Ohrid airports and building new airport infrastructure, has been successfully completed. The Macedonian government is currently subsidising low cost airline Wizz Air, which has become the country’s busiest airline. A total of five million euros have been allocated to the no frills airline until 2015.