Montenegro Airlines, Jat, Adria and Croatia Airlines to meet next monthThe CEO of Montenegro Airlines, Zoran Djurišić, has invited the executives from the former Yugoslavia’s three busiest carriers, Croatia Airlines, Jat Airways and Adria Airways, to meet and discuss the proposal set out by the Association of European Airlines for the flag carriers of the four former Yugoslav republics to merge into a single airline. The meeting is set to take place on May 19 on the Budva Riviera.
The four sides will discuss the implementation of a free skies agreement between the countries of the former Yugoslavia, which would allow unrestricted access for all of the airlines involved to operate flights to each other’s countries. Furthermore, a fleet exchange plan will also be discussed, which would allow airlines to exchange aircraft amongst each other in accordance to their needs. Also on the agenda will be the proposal for the airlines to trade staff, maintenance and catering. The fourth and final point to be discussed will be a unified approach on the international market through unified representation of all four airlines.
In his letter to the three CEO’s, Djurišić notes that as a result of the global economic crisis and the aviation crisis which has hit Europe, regional airlines are facing a challenging future. Djurišić notes that foreign airlines are gaining the upper hand in the region against local carriers. While many airlines began to recover in 2011 after the economic crisis, it was Montenegro Airlines and Adria Airways which were hit hard. Montenegro Airlines has seen a big slide in passenger numbers, especially to its key market - Belgrade, while its losses have mounted. However, it is not alone as all of the former Yugoslav carriers are operating with significant losses. Both Croatia Airlines’ and Adria’s passenger figures have been plummeting this year, while Jat’s losses increased by several million euros in 2011. Last month, the Association of European Airlines warned that national carriers of the former Yugoslavia will disappear if they do not merge. The claims were supported by the CEO of Adria Airways which said that the Slovenian carrier would support the move if its privatisation process fails this year.