Bulgarian carrier GullivAir has announced plans to launch flights between Sofia and Skopje after reaching an agreement with airport operator TAV Macedonia on reduced fares. Two weeks ago, the airline initially said it had no plans to introduce services to the Macedonian capital anytime soon. However, the route has received strong political support from both countries and is seen as a sign of warming relations after Bulgaria blocked Macedonia’s start of membership. talks with the European Union just two months ago for the second consecutive year. A promotional flight was operated yesterday between the two capitals with GullivAir’s ATR72-600 aircraft, carrying government officials, the airline’s CEO, executives from Sofia Airport, as well as representatives of major tour operators Bulgarians and the aviation regulator.
Commenting on the planned new service, Macedonian Transport and Communications Minister Blagoj Bočvarski said: “Today, to my great satisfaction, I can announce that the Skopje – Sofia route will be launched on March 27. Together with our colleagues from the Republic of Bulgaria, as well as tour operators, we have taken an important decision affecting both tourism and the economies of both countries. We have a high level of cooperation which will continue to develop in the coming period,” Macedonian Economy Minister Kreshnik Bekteshi said. “Based on last year’s data, there has been a double-digit increase in the number of Bulgarian tourists arriving in our country. With the introduction of flights, we expect these numbers to double on both sides in the coming years.”
Flights between Sofia and Skopje were last maintained between 2006 and 2009. No details were given on planned frequencies for the new route. GullivAir launched operations last summer and currently has a fleet of three ATR72-600s and one Airbus A330-200, which it mainly uses on charter flights. Its only regular service is between Sofia and Burgas. However, the carrier aspires to introduce transatlantic operations from the Bulgarian capital to New York and Toronto. As a result, Skopje could potentially power its planned new long-haul routes. The airline further intends to introduce services to Tirana and Thessaloniki.