Low cost competition for Montenegro AirlinesGovernment protectionism over Montenegro Airlines is expected to end soon as it announces it will no longer pose obstacles to other carriers interested in establishing flights to the country. Until now, all airlines applying for a license would first have to get the tick of approval from Montenegro Airlines before receiving clearances from the country’s civil aviation body to operate to either Tivat or Podgorica. The practice is said to be hindering the country’s expanding tourism industry, which could benefit from numerous seasonal low cost flights as is the case in seaside cities across Croatia. The move will come as a slap to the Montenegrin national carrier which is in the process of taking out a 9.6 million Euro loan to cover its losses and is hoping airports in Montenegro and Belgrade will write off its unpaid debt. The airline is also struggling to pay handling fees at other airports such as Frankfurt and Vienna and will be slashing employee pay by 20%.
The Montenegrin government is continuing negotiations with low cost airlines Ryanair and easyJet. With generous incentives, Ryanair is keen on starting flights to both Podgorica and Tivat from the United Kingdom, namely Glasgow. easyJet on the other hand is considering commencing services to the country in the summer of 2012. The relaxed protectionist policy would also encourage other low cost airlines, the government believes. The Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Montenegro, Catherine Knight-Sands, said that the introduction of low cost flights between her country and Montenegro would be of great importance to the further advancement in relations between the two.
Despite being a country which heavily relies on tourism, an industry significantly propped up by low cost flights, not a single no frills airline operates to Montenegro. This summer, only Air Berlin will fly the flag for low cost airlines in Montenegro, although most consider Germany’s second largest airline to be outside of the no frills category due to its pricing.