Albanians use their neighboring countries as their ‘low cost’ airports while Tirana tops the list of most expensive airports in the region

Tirana airport albania
"Mother Teresa" International Airport in Tirana, Albania

Tirana, Albania (Tirana Echo) – While the Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama has recently spoken of a second airport to be built in the southern port city of Vlora, the Monitor business magazine says that Albanians use their neighboring countries to fly cheaper across the world, as Tirana tops the list of the most expensive airports in South East Europe.

According to Monitor, the lack of low cost alternatives and of a second airport forces Albanians to fly from nighboring capital cities from where they reach European destinations directly at a lower cost.

Albanian tour agencies offering tourist packages have already started to use Prishtina, Skopje and Podgorica as a starting point, enabling them to offer more competitive group packages to Albanian tourists.

After a bus ride to Skopje, Albanians can fly directly to Barcelona, Madrid, Stockholm or Dubai while countries like Switzerland and Germany are better served through Prishtina.

Tirana seems to be the ideal place to travel to several Italian destinations while Albania still lacks a secondary Airport which could be used by low cost companies. Until 2016 the owners of Tirana International Airport (TIA) has benefitted from a 20 year exclusive airspace concession with the Albanian government preventing any other airports to be used for international flights.

Since last year, the Ministry of Transport has renegotiated the terms of the contract with TIA, which lifts its exclusive rights and opens the way for other airports to be used.

The northern Airport of Kukës which was built in 2005 has since its inauguration never been used while experts say that the airports would need an extra 3m Euros to be amended before it can start working.

Earlier this year the Albanian Government said that concrete steps to start work on the southern airport would begin in 2018 and $4m have been allocated from the state budget.

According to the national transport strategy for 2016-2020, the Albanian government is considering the cities of Gjirokastra, Saranda, Vlora, Fier and Korca as potential candidates to build the thirst international airport of Albania after Tirana and Kukës.

Copyright 2017 Tirana Echo.  Additional sources: Monitor / Express