|Montenegro Airlines and Etihad finalising strategic partnership agreement|
Montenegro Airlines’ CEO, Daliborka Pejović, has announced that her airline will sign a strategic partnership agreement with Etihad Airways in four months time, describing it as “a major opportunity for the promotion of Montenegro”. Ms. Pejović says that the strategic partnership agreement with the Abu Dhabi-based carrier will give Montenegro Airlines access to Etihad’s global network of destinations and will allow the airline to use the Emirati carrier’s resources in order to improve fleet utilisation during the slow winter months. Furthermore, the two will ink a codeshare agreement. “Codeshare agreements will better position Montenegro Airlines onto the vast market which has been conquered by Etihad”, Ms. Pejović says.
According to the CEO, the new partnership will boost synergies between the two carriers, providing Montenegro Airlines with access to better airport handling services, reduced costs and other benefits enjoyed by Etihad on the market. Ms. Pejović says the two sides are still considering whether the Emirati national carrier should buy a stake in Montenegro Airlines. The Montenegrin government has listed its carrier for privatisation this year, with a minority stake to be offered to interested partners. Etihad Airways already owns a 49% share in Montenegro Airline’s neighbouring counterpart Air Serbia and nearby Alitalia. The airline saw its passenger numbers decline 5% last year as it faces strong competition on its key markets - Serbia and Russia.
Talks regarding Etihad’s involvement in Montenegro Airlines have been ongoing for almost a year. Initially, the country’s Foreign Minister, Igor Lukšić, met with Etihad’s CEO, James Hogan, in Abu Dhabi in May 2014 after which he announced that the Emirati carrier would screen the Montenegrin airline. Discussions were again held in Abu Dhabi recently where Serbia’s Deputy President for Cooperation with the UAE, Mladjan Dinkić, credited for finalising Etihad’s takeover of Air Serbia, headed the talks. “This partnership is important and will further stimulate Montenegro’s openness and accessibility, serving as the foundation of the country’s transport network”, Ms. Pejović concludes.