A legal framework establishing direct regular and charter flights between Macedonia and the United States is provided by an air traffic agreement between the countries that was signed Thursday in Skopje by Minister of Transport and Communications Mile Janakieski and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip Reeker.
By signing the agreement, conditions are created to start lobbying with airlines showing possible interest to launch flights between Macedonia and the U.S., according to the Minister.
"As soon as tomorrow, we'll start lobbying and stimulating airlines to point out this possibility and benefits offered by Macedonian airports first and foremost. I expect interest to be shown, however it depends on the business logic and commercial aspect of establishing flights," Janakieski said after signing the treaty.
The document, he elaborated, opens opportunities to expand Macedonia's aviation market, to improve bilateral ties and to advance the services for passengers.
On his part, Reeker said that the U.S. international aviation policy was based on market competitiveness, whereas the agreement implied trust toward Macedonia.
According to Reeker, the open sky treaty lifted all administrative hurdles for establishing air connection between Macedonia and the United States.
"We want to do everything we can to strengthen the relations between the U.S. and Macedonia. By signing the accord, we will boost the economic cooperation and bilateral ties, especially this time when the focus is on economy, economic growth and reforms that are crucial," the U.S. diplomat stressed adding that promoting Macedonia's development was a long-term important priority for the U.S.
An effective air transport, Reeker noted, is a precondition to develop the industrial, financial, trade and tourist sector. International air connections are key for the transportation of passengers and goods. It is estimated that 40% of the global trade is accomplished through air transportation.
"Consequently, the message is clear, every country needs to create air connections in order to do trade," Reeker concluded adding that Macedonia become one of the 90 open-sky partners of the United States.
The signing of the Macedonia-U.S. air traffic agreement comes after the text of an open sky agreement and a memorandum were initialed in 2011.