Blame game for Ryanair’s absence from Montenegro beginsFollowing another failed attempt to lure Ryanair to Montenegro, tour operators are blaming the country’s government for the airline’s disinterest. Operators warn that Montenegro is already an isolated island when it comes to cheap air fares. They believe that the government doesn’t want low cost airlines to come to the country in order to protect Montenegro Airlines’ monopoly. “You make it look as if you want to sign an agreement with a low cost airline but in reality you purposely stall the entire process. How come Croatia is so dumb to allow 22 low cost airlines to operate to its airports and we are so smart not to allow a single one”, a representative from Yugotours, Vukašin Ćulafić, told Deutsche Welle recently. Tourism professor, Silvana Djurašević, claims that subsidising low cost airlines is the least the country can do, as the return from the investment will be much greater.
Earlier in March the government said it had negotiated for Ryanair to launch flights to Podgorica from three cities in June. However, the announcement was followed by an angry reaction from the low cost airline, unhappy that details of the agreement were made public. It then decided not to sign the agreement with the Montenegrin government citing expensive fees at Podgorica Airport as its motive to stay away. Currently, out of all the former Yugoslav republics, Ryanair offers seasonal flights only to Croatia. This summer Ryanair is adding 270 new routes to its networks, although will shed 130 routes from last summer.
The Minister for Sustainable Development and Tourism, Predrag Sekulić, says he will review the pricing policy of Airports of Montenegro, which runs both Podgorica and Tivat. “Low cost airlines have a policy to open routes where they are subsidised. Their arrival will boost tourism. Low cost airlines don’t bring tourists who are not willing to spend, on the contrary, these tourists want to have more money to spend during their holiday”. In its defence, Airports of Montenegro says that it is playing a constructive, not a destructive role in bringing low cost carriers to the country. Despite Ryanair’s absence the airport’s management is certain that it will record strong passenger growth this year from May to September.