|Etihad Airways to screen Montenegro Airlines|
Etihad Airways has expressed interest to boost cooperation with Montenegro Airlines and look into the possibility of purchasing a stake in the national carrier. The news comes after the Montenegrin Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Igor Lukšić, met with Etihad CEO James Hogan in Abu Dhabi yesterday. In addition, both Montenegro Airlines and Etihad have held talks in the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Etihad will soon send its own delegation to Podgorica in order to screen the Montenegrin national carrier which is set to be privatised later this year. “We have made a definite agreement for a team from Etihad Airways to visit Montenegro in order to define models of cooperation and partnership between Etihad Airways and Montenegro Airlines”, Mr. Lukšić said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the Montenegrin Privatisation and Capital Investment Council announced plans to privatise Montenegro Airlines this year. At the time, the Council said shares in the Montenegrin carrier will be offered through a public tender. It will be the government’s second attempt at selling its indebted national carrier after it failed to do so in 2011. Despite the government’s approval for a second privatisation effort in 2012, the process never took place. Etihad has previously expressed interest to invest in Montenegro Airlines. During the 2011 privatisation attempt, in which the government was looking to sell a 30% stake in the Montenegrin carrier, Etihad purchased the tender documentation. However, it failed to place a bid later on.
With Etihad looking to finalise a deal to purchase a stake in Alitalia and its recent acquisition of Air Serbia, Montenegro Airlines would be the UAE carrier’s next investment in the region and one of its smallest after Darwin Airline in Switzerland. However, a possible acquisition of the carrier could also come through Air Serbia, which has previously expressed interest to tie up with carriers in the region and is in talks to further boost cooperation with Bosnia’s B&H Airlines.