Skopje maintains lead over Zagreb as EX-YU’s third busiest airport
Skopje Airport welcomed more travelers than its traditionally busier counterpart in Zagreb during the first half of the year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact traditional passenger flows. Macedonia’s busiest airport handled 374,722 passengers during the January-June period, down 64.6% compared to the same period in 2019. This is compared to Zagreb, where the number of passengers decreased by 78% from 2019 to 337,372 over the six-month period. The majority of Macedonian nationals were only allowed entry into most member states of the European Union just over a month ago. These are traditionally the busiest markets at Skopje Airport, with some 77% of airport traffic generated to and from the EU. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the traditional order of the busiest airports in the former Yugoslavia, with Belgrade having the most passengers in the first half of the year, followed by Pristina and Skopje.
During the January-June period, the greatest capacity to and from Skopje was offered at Istanbul’s two airports – Istanbul International and Sabiha Gokcen – followed by Basel, Vienna, Dortmund and London Luton. At the same time, the largest number of seats to and from Zagreb were offered in Frankfurt, followed by Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Split and Istanbul. Wizz Air and Turkish Airlines had the largest capacity in the Macedonian capital, while Croatia Airlines and KLM dominated Zagreb. Skopje outperformed its Croatian counterpart in January, February, March, May and June, with Zagreb busier in April, which included the Easter break.
Skopje and Zagreb are both managed by the same company, although the latter is part of a larger consortium. Croatia’s busiest airport is expected to rebound strongly in the coming months with Ryanair opening a base in the city towards the end of August with a total of sixteen new routes over the summer. Commenting on the current state of the Macedonian air transport market, the managing director of Skopje airport operator TAV Macedonia, Metin Batak, said: “Most airlines have restored their operations. This is notably the case for Wizz Air, which has resumed its activities in Germany, as well as in Northern and Western Europe. However, due to the big shocks to the aviation industry and the sudden changes in travel restrictions by different countries, we expect a slow recovery. Gradually, we expected the number of destinations in Skopje to return to the level we had before the crisis, which is 44 ”.