Passenger numbers between Serbia and Montenegro take a hitPassenger numbers between Serbia and Montenegro have sharply decreased over the past four years. The Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency (SMATSA) believes this negative trend can only be overturned if ticket prices are reduced and flights between Belgrade, Podgorica and Tivat operate on an hourly basis. Currently, return ticket prices on the service between the two countries, with flight times of approximately 45 minutes, amount to 100 euros and upwards to 190 euros. A world wide price hike in aviation ticketing in late March has also affected the Serbia to Montenegro services.
On the other hand, some believe that the continuing duopoly between Jat Airways and Montenegro Airlines has also caused travel between the two countries to plummet. From 2008 until 2010 Montenegro Airlines had the upper hand against its Serbian rival on services from Podgorica and Tivat to Belgrade. In 2010, Jat began to claw back passengers and is once again the dominant carrier on the route, thanks in part due to its constant promotional ticketing campaigns. However, in the first quarter air traffic between the two countries is down 7% on last year. A low cost carrier on the route could shake things up but it is unlikely that either the Serbian or Montenegrin government would allow such a move.
The Air Traffic Services Agency has proposed for seventeen daily rotations between Belgrade, Podgorica and Tivat. They believe that some 300.000 passengers could be carried on the route, while ticket prices should amount to 60 euros. This would be achieved through reduced handling fees at airports, the elimination of the security tax and other measures. Reacting to the proposal, Jat Airways says there is no possibility for ticket prices to be any lower, noting that the fuel tax itself amounts to 25 euros. Jat recently moved its Podgorica and Tivat departures to terminal one at Belgrade Airport in order for the airport tax to be reduced for passengers. Services to Ohrid, Split, Pula and Dubrovnik will also enjoy the lower terminal one tax.
Do you think that the proposal made by the SMATSA is viable? What do you believe is the main reason for the overpriced services between the two countries? Leave a comment.