Bulgarian airline GullivAir has announced it will start flights between Sofia and Skopje after reaching an agreement with airport operator TAV Macedonia on reduced fees. Two weeks ago, the airline initially said it had no immediate plans to launch services to the Macedonian capital, but the route has garnered strong political support from both countries and is seen as a sign of warming ties after Bulgaria blocked the start of Macedonia’s accession has held talks with the European Union just two months ago for a second straight year. A promotional flight between the two capitals was operated yesterday on GullivAir’s ATR72-600 aircraft, carrying government officials, the airline’s CEO, Sofia Airport executives, as well as representatives of Bulgaria’s main tour operators and the Aviation Authority.
Commenting on the planned new service, Macedonian Minister of Transport and Communications Blagoj Bočvarski said: “Today, to my great satisfaction, I can announce that the Skopje – Sofia route will start on March 27 together with our colleagues from the Republic of Bulgaria and the tour operators have made an important decision that affects both tourism and the economy of both countries. We have a high level of cooperation, which will continue to develop in the coming period,” said Macedonian Economy Minister Kreshnik Bekteshi , “Based on the data last year there was a double-digit increase in the number of Bulgarian tourists who came to our country. With the introduction of flights, we expect these numbers to double at both ends in the coming years.”
Flights between Sofia and Skopje were last maintained between 2006 and 2009. No information was given on the frequencies planned for the new route. GullivAir began operations last summer and currently has a fleet of three ATR72-600s and one Airbus A330-200, mainly used on charter flights. The only scheduled service is between Sofia and Burgas. However, the airline aims to introduce transatlantic flights from the Bulgarian capital to New York and Toronto. As a result, Skopje could potentially serve its planned new long-haul routes. The airline also intends to introduce flights to Tirana and Thessaloniki.