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The Montenegrin government has begun settling Montenegro Airlines’ debts as part of a push to restructure the national carrier. During this year, the government will write off 3.7 million euros worth of debt accumulated by Montenegro Airlines. Last year it provided 36 million euros to the carrier. Furthermore, the government has initiated talks with the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency (SMATSA) in order to settle the multi million euro debt owed by the airline. “We are hoping to solve the issue in a similar fashion Jat Airways settled its debt in 2010 - through compensation”, Sladjana Popović Tarlać from SMATSA says. The government is offering a three star hotel complex in the town of Bijela to the Air Traffic Services Agency. However, Ms. Popović Tarlać refused to comment on the amount of debt owed to the Agency. Mid last year the figure stood at 7.562.142 euros.
Montenegro Airlines states that despite a difficult financial year in 2012 its results are steadily improving and the carrier has seen growth in all sectors, making it one of the most successful in Europe and the most successful in the region. The national carrier handled approximately 601.000 passengers last year, an improvement of 6% compared to 2011. However, Montenegro Airlines could be facing some added competition if Ryanair is successful in launching seasonal flights to Tivat this summer season. In 2011, Montenegro Airlines’ CEO, Zoran Djurišić, said that if low cost airlines were to come to Montenegro they should be required to operate an all year round service and, as a result, struggle. “Montenegro Airlines struggles for eight months while low cost airlines operate flights for only three months and fill their aircraft to London, Paris and Moscow, services which we have nurtured for eight months”, Djurišić said in a interview to the “Dan” daily at the time.
Meanwhile, Montenegro Airlines’ hub airports, Podgorica and Tivat, recorded a combined total of 1.345.150 passengers pass through their doors in 2012, an improvement of 7% on the year before.
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