The Macedonian air traffic control agency M-NAV issued a press release assuring the public that all standards are being met and that passengers can be assured in the safety of their travel. The statement comes after a series of reported incidents and scares, as well as the on-going corruption scandal.
After the Government Secretary General Dragi Raskovski had a recorded conversation leaked publicly, which created serious allegations of corruption, pro-Government media outlets responded by unloading at the former M-NAV director and likely leaker of the conversation. They reported about an incident in September 2018, when the air traffic control radars allegedly went offline.
Other leaks followed, the most damaging of which was the report that a Turkish and a Dutch passenger plane had a near miss over lake Dojran in May 2019, and that the current M-NAV leadership is allegedly covering the incident up. Finally, on Friday, an inbound plane from Istanbul had a dramatic and ultimately failed landing attempt at the Skopje airport, as new leaks about Raskovski went online.
The safety of air travel and the M-NAV activities are conducted at the highest possible level. M-NAV follows all procedures and conducts the appropriate internal quality controls, the beleaguered agency said in its press release.
It confirmed the September 2018 incident, which it says was due to improper system testing, but insists that the personnel responded properly to the situation and managed to overcome it quickly.
Regarding the leaked tapes, the current M-NAV management considers them taken out of context and damaging to their reputation. The tapes leave the impression that Raskovski favored the Italian Leonardo company to provide valuable systems to M-NAV, pushed the previous management to accept the deal, and even has the understanding that what is being done is illegal or at least improper. Raskovski also used racist language about Italians, Roma and “sub-equatorial nations”, showing a poor grasp of geography in the process. Raskovski defended himself saying that he was instructed by Prime Minister Zaev to discuss the procurement with the M-NAV management and with Leonardo representatives, while Zaev did his part to assure the public that there was no corruption involved, saying that nobody would ask for a bribe at a meeting that includes seven other people.
M-NAV blames its previous manager Kliment Cepunjovski fo rleaking the tape.
The procurement of the Air Traffic Management system is the most important component of the EBRD loan and it was guided under EBRD rules since 2013, with the involvement of independent experts from France and Eurocontrol. The contract was signed with Leonardo by the three M-NAV managers in December 2018. The ATM system provides our basic service to direct air traffic navigation above the Republic of “North Macedonia” safely and effictiently, M-NAV said in its press release, insisting that the procurement was conducted legally, citing independent audits to support the legitimacy of the offered price.
A competing offer, M-NAV said, was rejected because its application contained errors adn defects. Leakers have implied that M-NAV rejected a better offer and went for the Italian company, which seems to be confirmed by some of the leaked comments from Raskovski.