|Montenegro Airlines relying on Fokkers during next development cycle|
Montenegro Airlines has halted the planned sale of two of its Fokker 100 aircraft, estimated to be worth 1.440.000 US dollars, according to the government. Despite state approval for the sale, the airline says that due to their age, the aircraft are no longer fit for use and a buyer would be difficult to find. The jets will likely be cannibalised for spare parts for the remaining two operational Fokkers in Montenegro Airlines’ fleet (registered 4O-AOM and 40-AOP). A fifth F100 (registered 4O-AOT) has been grounded for over a year and is need of an expensive D-check. This is by far the most comprehensive and demanding check for an airplane. It requires, more or less, for the entire aircraft to be taken apart, inspected and overhauled. Although the aircraft were once the workhorse of Montenegro Airlines’ fleet, the carrier’s two remaining operational F100s are now over 24 years old. The jets have a capacity to seat 102 passengers.
Montenegro Airlines says the aircraft type has proven extremely reliable over the past years and the carrier will count on them in the future. The airline’s Executive Director, Živko Banjević, told the “Vijesti” daily, “The Fokkers are still an integral part of our fleet and we will count on them during our next development cycle”. Montenegro Airlines retired its first F100 in 2011. The second operated its last flight for the airline on December 31, 2013 before it too was permanently grounded. Finally, the third jet, in need of the abovementioned D-check, ended its run for the carrier on March 1 last year.
Montenegro Airlines’ fleet now primarily consists of Embrarer jets. The carrier has three E195s and one E190 it took delivery of only recently. However, the airline only owns one of the jets while the other three are on financial lease from the aircraft leasing company GECAS (General Electric Aviation Services). Following the expiry of the lease, which lasts eight years for each aircraft, Montenegro Airlines can purchase them if it wishes to do so. Earlier this year, the airline’s CEO, Daliborka Pejović, said the airline would sign a strategic partnership agreement with Etihad Airways over the summer, which could potentially see the Emirati carrier buy a stake in the airline. At the time, local media reported that an Etihad drafted plan foresaw the transfer of the Montenegro-owned Embraer to equity partner Alitalia while the remaining three jets would be returned to their owner following the expiry of the lease. Asked to comment on the announced strategic partnership, an Etihad spokesperson told EX-YU Aviation News yesterday that the airline does not wish to make statements on plans of such nature.