Montenegro Airlines against privatisationThe CEO of Montenegro Airlines, Zoran Djurišić, has launched a scathing attack against the government for attempting to privatise the national carrier. “The government knows my stance regarding the privatisation which is why I have been completely excluded from the process”, Djurišić said. He added that privatising the airline will have long term negative effects on the country. Instead, Djurišić says the government should cover the airline’s losses and pressure Montenegro’s largest petroleum company, Jugopetrol, to reduce its unreasonably high costs.
Djurišić’s claims mark the first big rift between him and the government with which he has been in good relations since setting up the national carrier back in 1994. Under the government’s proposal, Djurišić was recently re-elected as the company’s CEO for another four year term, which will see him serve at the top of Montenegro Airlines’ management for 21 years. Djurišić also said that potential ownership by an Israeli or Turkish company would have a negative impact on the country’s tourism industry. “This year we saved the tourism season by carrying almost 300.000 passengers within three months, we filled the state’s budget and thanks to us many other companies have profited, including the airports, Jugopetrol and hotels. With a foreign owner none of this would be required of the airline”, Montenegro Airlines’ CEO concluded.
Meanwhile, Airports of Montenegro, which runs both Podgorica and Tivat airports, accused Montenegro Airlines for not making good on its financial obligations. The company claims Montenegro Airlines owes over 8 million Euros to Podgorica and Tivat. More than half is on airport taxes. Airports of Montenegro says its business is being seriously affected by the national carrier. Montenegro Airlines also owes millions to the country’s air traffic control and Jugopetrol with media sources adding that no one really knows the extent of Montenegro Airlines’ losses or debt.
Last month, the Government of Montenegro said it would soon begin tender procedures to sell a 30% share in Montenegro Airlines after which the new owner would have the ability to take a majority stake in the carrier. A similar attempt last year failed despite interest from El Al Israel Airlines, Etihad Airways and Arkia Airlines.