With the traditional welcoming ceremony, TAV Macedonia this morning at Ohrid St. Paul the Apostle Airport with a great pleasure greeted the arrival of the first charter-flight from Brussels, carried by the biggest European tour-operator Thomas Cook.
More than 120 passengers arrived with the aircraft Airbus A 320 from the center of the European Union, passing through Tivat in Montenegro, within their journey in different countries of the Balkans.
As of today, 20th of June, until mid of September, these charter flights are going to be realized once a week, on Monday, with arriving time in Ohrid at 8:20 a.m. and departing time for Brussels at 9:10 a.m.
-With the first charter flight from Brussels we have welcomed this morning at Ohrid St. Paul the Apostle Airport, we mark the beginning of the cooperation with the biggest European tour-operator Thomas Cook, very popular between British travelers first and foremost, from where the company origins are, as well as among all European tourists who massively buy their touristic packages and travel the world. Having on mind the significance of Thomas Cook’s network and their popularity among the British tourists, as one of the most moving tourist nations, who usually visit sea countries in our wider neighborhood, we are very happy that TAV Holding Marketing Department from Istanbul managed to convince them to include Ohrid in their charter-fights packages. This will result with new groups of tourists in Ohrid, who will visit Macedonia within their vacations packages travelling on the Balkans. That will bring not just an increase in the number of tourists, but a new quality and experience to Ohrid tourism facilities, and of course increased number of passengers at Ohrid Airport. We are sure that once they’ll experience the untouched beauty of Ohrid Lake, they would like to come again, and hopefully this cooperation between TAV and Thomas Cook will grow into tradition, as we have with other tour-operators, stated Zoran Krstevski, TAV Macedonia General Manager.
According to the flight schedule, the airport operator expects in the period June-September, more than 2.300 tourists to visit Ohrid only by these charter flights.
Serkan Karahatay, Marketing coordinator at TAV Airports holding in Istanbul, expressed his gratitude towards the good cooperation with Thomas Cook, as well as to the tourism authorities and professionals in Macedonia for their endless support on this project.
-When I have a look back over the last 3 years, I can easily remember the very first Ohrid conversation with Stephane Joly from Thomas Cook Belgium at a World Route Conference in Las Vegas in October 2013. Following the planned conversations over their existing operations in Turkey and Tunisia, we had a chance to present Ohrid and its offerings for the first time. Since then, some other meetings at various conferences held. During these long lasting conversations and joint studies, we convinced them to visit Ohrid and experience the destination in August 2015. After having met with relevant governmental bodies, as well as tourism professionals, they finally decided to inaugurate Ohrid flights. We strongly believe that Brussels services will be followed by other Thomas Cook countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia and the UK, stated Serkan Karahatay, Marketing coordinator at TAV Airports Istanbul.
Koen Van den Bosch, Thomas Cook spokesman, stressed that as a company being a market leader in the tourism business they need to be and stay sharp, creative and innovative to further develop.
- Thomas Cook is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. During these 175 years Thomas Cook has always proven to put the customer at our heart. We are a company that loves travel, with enthusiasts in travel, hence we always go the extra mile for our guests who are the center of our business. Today with the first flight to Ohrid we are again innovating by introducing a new destination in our offer. New might be the wrong choice of wordings as Ohrid is habituated as from 6000 BC. The rich history, together with the lake of Ohrid as well as the natural heritage are straight away the up’s of the destination and makes it fit our portfolio, stated Koen Van den Bosch, Thomas Cook spokesman.
Previously, last week at Ohrid Airport the new route Belgrade-Ohrid-Belgrade was launched, and before that the charter flights from Tel Aviv, were launched. With all these new destinations, as well as the regular summer charter flights from Amsterdam and three regular flights to London, Basel and Zurich, the airport operator expects revival of St. Paul the Apostle, and increased traffic will contribute for more tourists to visit Ohrid, but also many citizens of Ohrid-Struga region and the wider area of southwestern Macedonia to fly abroad.
Ohrid Airport St. Paul the Apostle last month by ACI Europe (Airports Council International - Europe) was named the second fastest growing small airport in Europe in the first quarter of 2016, with an increase in the number of passengers of 173.9% in the first quarter of 2016.
TAV Macedonia ended 2015 with 22% increase in the total number of passengers at the two Macedonian airports - Alexander the Great – Skopje and St. Paul the Apostle- Ohrid, reaching 1.560.381 passengers. At the same time, the total number of operations increased for 11%, reaching 15.510.
The trend of increased traffic continues this year. In the first five months of 2016 through two Macedonian airports were transported 648.745 passengers, which is an increase of 28% compared to the same period in 2015. At the same time, the number of operations (landings and take-offs) at the two airports increased by 16%.