Montenegro Airlines, the flag carrier of Montenegro, has announced that it is in discussions to introduce new routes to Lisbon and Istanbul.
The carrier’s CEO, Željko Banjević, said, “In terms of new destinations in 2020, we are currently completing our analysis and negotiations over the potential introduction of seasonal flights to Lisbon and Istanbul. In the coming period, we will also be working on commencing flights towards new destinations within Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East”.
Mr Banjević did not specify whether the new routes would originate from Podgorica or Tivat. Currently, Turkish Airlines maintains services between Istanbul and Podgorica, while there are no flights from Montenegro to Lisbon.
At this point, Montenegro Airlines plans to run flights to sixteen destinations. Of those, half are year-round, and half are seasonal. In 2020, the carrier will operate flights to a total of fifteen charter destinations.
Fleet-wise, Montenegro Airlines will retire its sole operational Fokker 100 jet following the end of the 2020 summer season. “The plan is to have a fleet of five Embraer E195 jets, while a sixth plane, of the same or greater capacity, would be wet-leased through an ACMI over the summer season”, Mr Banjević noted.
The airline currently has five F100 jets in its fleet, four of which are grounded, and three E195s. Two of the Embraer jets are on operational leases, which run until 2024 and 2025 respectively. “We will negotiate the acquisition of those two E195s from the lessors, because we have been systematically investing in them since 2008”, the CEO said. The airline previously noted it would lease an additional E195 jet for the coming summer.
Montenegro Airlines handled a record 657.276 passengers in 2019, representing an increase of 1.9% on the year before. The Montenegrin parliament recently adopted legislation “for the investment and consolidation of the national carrier” which allocates 155 million euros to Montenegro Airlines over the next six years.
The government noted that 105 million euros will be used to cover the airline’s debt, while fifty million will be utilised for the acquisition of new aircraft. The state emphasised that the bankruptcy or closure of the airline would have had a negative impact on the Montenegrin economy and its tourism sector.
Under the six-year plan, Montenegro Airlines is expected to post a profit this year and remain profitable for the duration of the state aid package. Furthermore, the carrier will be required to reduce its workforce by 2023 from the current 358 employees. The company aims to carry between 700.000 and 750.000 passengers per year between 2020 and 2023.