Air Albania Operates First Flight To New Kukës International Airport

Albania opened a new airport yesterday: Kukës International Airport Zayed-North Wings. The country’s flag carrier, Air Albania, was the first to operate a flight there when a special service landed with Prime Minister Edi Rama on board.

Air albania
Air Albania operated the first flight to Kukës International Airport Zayed-North Wings yesterday. Photo: Air Albania

A new airport for Albania

Albania opened a new airport yesterday: Kukës International Airport Zayed-North Wings. This is now only the second international airport in the country, located some 150 kilometers from Albania’s capital city, Tirana.

One of Kukës Airport’s purposes will be to serve as a low-cost airport, Top Channel reports. The plan is for it to be operationally ready by the end of June this year when it should also begin welcoming scheduled passenger services.

Commenting on the planned timescale during the opening ceremony, the Minister for Infrastructure of Albania, Belinda Balluku, said (translated):

“Today we will begin testing the runway and the procedures to make this airport more attractive. On 17th June, it will be totally usable by all companies.”

Air Albania
Air Albania’s arrival into Kukës officially opened the airport. Photo: Air Albania

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Air Albania is the first to arrive

Air Albania, the flag carrier of the country, was the first airline to arrive in Kukës International Airport Zayed-North Wings when it officially opened yesterday. The airline sent its Airbus A319, ZA-BEL, for the occasion.

The aircraft arrived with Albania’s Prime Minister, Edi Rama, on board. The A319 flew in from London Stansted to Tirana, where Prime Minister Rama boarded it, and then it flew to Kukës. In this way, Rama met his election campaign promise that there would be a flight into Kukës from London before elections take place. The election will take place later this week.

London was no coincidence: Air Albania will inaugurate a scheduled service to Kukës from London Stansted in June this year. This was also a repatriation flight from the UK to Albania after a four-month ban on arrivals. Local media have reported that there were several dozen passengers on board.

Air Albania
Air Albania’s Airbus A319 aircraft was given a water salute upon arrival. Photo: Air Albania

Albania’s aviation is booming

It is not surprising that Albania has opened another airport. It is even building one more too. The country is heavily reliant on air traffic for its links to the world. The country has a sizeable diaspora in Italy, Scandinavia, Turkey, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

This explains why, even in these times of travel restrictions, Tirana Airport is doing very well. In 2020, it had more passengers than Zagreb Airport in Croatia.

For example, today, 19th April, the following flights were and are scheduled to depart from Tirana:

  • Pegasus Airlines to Istanbul
  • Air Serbia to Belgrade, twice
  • Lufthansa to Frankfurt
  • Air Albania to Rome, Istanbul, and Verona
  • Albawings to Bari
  • Aegean Airlines to Athens
  • Austrian Airlines to Vienna
  • Alitalia to Rome
  • Wizz Air to Milan Bergamo
  • Jetairfly to Brussels

What do you think of Albania having two airports now? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments.