MAT Macedonian Airlines may lose its flag carrier status due to its level of foreign ownership combined with recent political changes in the region.

According to the Macedonian daily newspaper Vest, the recently appointed head of the Macedonian Civil Aviation Authority (UCVP), Ilir Mehmedi, requested in December that the contract giving MAT flag carrier status be cancelled. UCVP claims that when MAT's flag carrier status was granted in November 2001, the airline was "owned by foreign capital".

It has also questioned the level of debts MAT has with Eurocontrol, Skopje Airport and UCVP itself. UCVP recently cancelled licences of seven of the 17 Yugoslav pilots that are flying for MAT, and instructed the carrier to employ Macedonian crews.

Set up in May 1994, MAT operates two Boeing 737-300s on lease-purchase from Yugoslav carrier JAT. MAT implemented a four-year business plan in 2001.

Source: Flight International