Air Albania to Start Operating This Summer
Albanian Daily News
Published June 11, 2018
The flag carrier Air Albania, a joint venture being negotiated with Turkish Airlines, will begin flying European routes this summer with a view to making its first transatlantic flights by December, one of the men behind the venture has told BIRN.
The Albanian government last month ordered national air controller AlbControl to negotiate a joint venture with Turkish Airlines and a newly-founded Albanian company called MDN Investment to create a new national airline.
MDN Investment was registered on May 3 and has no known assets or previous experience in air travel. But owner Sinan Idrizi, who is known as a sponsor of sports teams in his native city of Vlora in southern Albania, told BIRN the company would be flying soon and that crew members were already undergoing training in Turkey. "We will be aggressive in the market," Idrizi, 50, told BIRN in a telephone interview.
Idriz said he had business interests in Turkey but declined to say how much he expected to invest in the future joint venture. "This will be a matter decided later," he said.
MDN Investment has a declared capital of Euro 100,000 and Idrizi has no other businesses registered in Albania.
Prime Minister Edi Rama last year asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his help in creating an Albanian national carrier. Turkish Airlines has said several times that it is interested in the project. Rama has long promised to create the airline and to build an airport in Vlora.
According to the government decision, Albcontrol and MDN Investment will hold the controlling share in the new company of at least 51% while Turkish Airlines will take the rest. Flag carriers had been important factors in the air transport market before the Open Air policy of the European Union, which effectively liberalised the market. Albania has been part of Open Air since 2006.
The market in Albania has grown over the past three decades due mainly to demand from the large population of Albania migrants and their families. The number of passengers flying to and from Albania has almost doubled over the past decade. In 2016, 22,000 flights and 2.2 million passengers passed through the country's only international airport.