Soon in Podgorica
Europe’s largest low cost airline, Ryanair, will launch services from Charleroi in Belgium to the Montenegrin capital starting June 20. Maria Macken, Ryanair’s Sales and Marketing Manager for the UK, Ireland and Cyprus, announced the new service this afternoon at a press conference in Budva. The Ryanair flights will operate twice per week, every Monday and Thursday. Tickets are to go on sale tomorrow on the airline’s website. Montenegro marks Ryanair’s 29th country of operation. Speaking at the conference Ms. Macken said, “This year we are introducing only one service due to capacity restrictions. However, from next year we plan to introduce flights from London, Barcelona, Stockholm and Milan to Tivat”. The initial service from Podgorica is set to operate throughout the year, with Ryanair planning to handle some 10.000 passengers on the route in its first year.
Ryanair originally made plans to launch services to Montenegro last summer. In March 2012, the Montenegrin government said it had negotiated with 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 main motive for staying away. Tour operators blamed the government, claiming it purposely sabotaged the negotiating process to protect Montenegro Airlines.
However, in January this year the government launched fresh talks with Ryanair, saying it had made it its main priority to bring low cost carriers to the country. Despite its economy heavily relying on tourism, Montenegro is currently not served by a single low cost airline. Within the former Yugoslavia, Ryanair only operates services to Croatia. Earlier this month it opened its first base in the country, in Zadar.