The cheap flights may become only good memories
Will “WizzAir” “fly away” from Macedonia? Although the low ticket price attracts passengers, side costs are not missing
By: Bjanka Stankovikj
Ten minutes before three p.m. In the centre of the city there is a bus that transports passengers to the “International Airport – Skopje”. An older woman and her niece are sitting in it. The woman says that the last time she travelled with WizzAir was two years ago and that she has had only good experiences with the airline, and she also praised the helpful employees. This time, she says that they are going to meet the other granddaughter, who should travel through Warsaw and Paris because “WizzAir” does not have direct flights for certain destinations. She mentioned that the advantage lies in the price of tickets, but that services such as coffee, juice and food on board are not comprised, although this is not the case with the full-service airlines.
Two consecutive tenders for subsidizing low-cost airlines were annulled by the government in Skopje due to procedural omissions. In case “Wizz Air” leaves Macedonia, she says, it would affect the citizens because everyone uses their services only because of the low cost of the airline tickets.
“My niece takes every opportunity to come here when there are cheap tickets, especially on weekends,” she adds.
Petar Nestoroski, who says that he often travels with “Wizz Air”, says that for such cheap airline tickets that the citizens pay, the services are on a good level.
“I have personally travelled more than 30 times across Europe, most often in Budapest, Bratislava, Barcelona, Rome, Riga, Warsaw, Oslo, Stockholm and other places. In case “Wizz Air” leaves, it will affect a lot especially young people who want to travel, but also all citizens in Macedonia, because, nevertheless, “Wizz Air” is the only low-cost airline in our country,” said Nestoroski.
|Travel with “WizzAir”||Travel with a regular carrier|
|Skopje – Hahn (price of a one-way ticket – 60 euro)||Skopje – Frankfurt (price of a return ticket: 210 euro)|
|Hahn – Skopje (price of a return ticket – 90 euro)||Subway from the airport to Frankfurt (price: 8 euro)|
|Transportation: Airport in Hahn – to the centre of the city (price: 40 euro)|
|Luggage costs: 20 euro|
|Total: 210 euro||Total: 218 euro|
|Advantages: Direct flight||Advantages: The flight is available every day of the week|
|Disadvantages: The flight is available twice a week||Disadvantages: No direct flight, one change of flight|
Example of a flight for the period from 24th to 29th December.
TOURIST AGENCIES WITH DIVIDED OPINIONS
Representatives from the travel agency for organizing trips and management, “BT Macedonia” say that until now they have collaborated with “WizzAir” and that the greatest demand was for Dortmund, Cologne, Memmingem and Brussels.
“The possible leaving of “WizzAir” from Macedonia will certainly affect our work, especially for economic reasons, because the cancellation of flights will also reduce the number of our customers,” said “BT Macedonia”
The agency “Delfino Travel”, in turn, said via telephone that they focus on working with car rentals and airline tickets for companies instead of individual travellers. They said they had collaborated with “Wizz Air”, but very rarely, unless the client insisted that the flight be through this airline.
In case of leaving of the company from the country, this will not affect their work, as they say, because due to problems with the client’s guarantee, luggage problems, and frequent cancellation of flights, the cooperation with “WizzAir” is kept to a minimum.
MINISTER SUGAREVSKI WITH FIRM POSITION – THE TENDER HAS NOT BEEN MANIPULATED
Although the two tenders where WizzAir was the only bidder failed, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Goran Sugarevski, denounced at a press conference last month the statements that the tender had been fixed and that no member of the current government had anything against the airline. He promised that citizens will be able to travel on cheap flights, but it is necessary to respect the procedure.
Namely, the reason why the first tender was annulled in August was that the airline “WizzAir” did not write the full name and address of the company in the bid letter. Later on the second tender, the Commission that conducted the tender procedure informed “WizzAir” that it did not meet the required conditions. That is, the Hungarian company offered four new destinations from Ohrid Airport to be introduced in August next year, and in the announcement it was required to introduce the first two by January 10th and the following two in a year.
In the last 6 years, “WizzAir” has received more than 9.5 million euros of state aid
Sabri Aliu, who has a travel agency “Mergimi Air Travel Agency” in the Old Skopje Bazaar, says that it is a great shame that Macedonia does not have its own airline, and in the event of the leaving of “WizzAir” it is normal that citizens will feel the consequences. If in the 90’s Macedonia could boast with eight airlines, today there is not one.
“Only in our country the state provides subsidies for airlines, it doesn’t exist anywhere abroad. But since we are a rich country, we have decided to give subsidies for this too. With these five million euros foreseen by the Government, Macedonia can afford to start its own airline that initially could offer 10 excellent destinations. Starting from Zurich and Basel which are currently in highest demand, then Istanbul, Germany and the cities of Scandinavia. Ticket prices would have been more or less the same as those of WizzAir,” suggests Aliu.
The positive side of the establishment of its airline, as Aliu says, is that the state will not depend on others, and at the same time the domestic company has nowhere to “escape”.
|Country||Number of airlines|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
Former pilot Kiril Kaevski says that there is no real competition on the market in Macedonia, which is proven through a tender published by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, where only “WizzAir” has applied twice.
The biggest problem with regard to the starting of the airline is the lack of personnel, he says firmly.
“Many, that is, one-third of the staff is retired, and the rest are working in other countries around the world, including India and Japan. The training of new staff in Macedonia is reduced to a minimum. On the other hand, if they would borrow foreign staff it would cost a lot, and the state cannot afford it now,” explains Kaevski.
He says that although the tactics of the authorities regarding the tender is ridiculous, however, “WizzAir” will remain here, as it currently is, regardless of the fact that it does not receive subsidies from the state.
FIVE MILLION EURO IN SUBSIDIES IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS
From the beginning of 2019 until the end of 2021, the Government provides subsidies in the amount of 312.4 million denar, or 5 million euro. Minister Sugarevski at a press conference held last month said that the Ministry of Transport and Communications will announce a new public call, and the criteria and conditions will remain unchanged as on the previous public call.
The selected airline will be paid a one-time fee of 40,000 euro for each new destination from Skopje and Ohrid airports, and each outgoing passenger will also be subsidized during the subsidized period. In addition to these conditions, the companies that will apply should have transported at least 10 million passengers and had a profit of 25 million euro last year.