|Montenegro Airlines records Belgrade growth as Moscow tumbles|
Montenegro Airlines has seen its passenger numbers grow during the first five months of the year, with improved figures recorded on most markets including its biggest - Serbia. The Montenegrin carrier handled almost 200.000 passengers across its network from January until June, an increase of 3% compared to the same period last year. “It is important to note that besides facing significant challenges on the Serbian market, we managed to increase passenger numbers by 8%, that is 7.552 travellers more to/from Belgrade than the same period last year”, the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, Predrag Marković, said. During the first quarter, Montenegro Airlines outperformed its rival Air Serbia on services between the two countries, welcoming 48.730 passengers on its flights from Podgorica and Tivat to Belgrade and vice versa.
Other markets also improved. Passenger numbers on flights to Paris, with one additional weekly service compared to last year, and Dusseldorf, with the same amount of flights, grew 50% during the five-month period. Copenhagen, which is served three times per week (an extra two flights compared to 2014) recorded a 40% increase in passenger numbers. Services to Frankfurt improved 15%, London Gatwick was up 14% and Zurich saw a 5% increase in passenger numbers. Flights to Rome, Vienna and Ljubljana recorded similar figures to last year. On the other hand, the number of travellers on its flights to Moscow plunged 20% compared to 2014. The carrier blames a volatile rubble and the recession in Russia for the fall. Despite its Moscow service underperforming, Montenegro Airlines’ recently inaugurated seasonal summer flights from Tivat to St. Petersburg have recorded an average load factor of 75% since its launch on June 9. The service will run twice per week until September 26 with the 102-seat Fokker 100 aircraft.
Last year, the Montenegrin carrier handled 557.000 passengers, a decrease of 5% on the year before. Furthermore, its losses amounted to 9.5 million euros. The carrier recently began settling part of its 68 million euro debt and has agreed to repay money owed to the operator of the country’s two international airports - Podgorica and Tivat - amounting to 6.423.390 euros. The debt repayments will start on March 1, 2017 and will be made in instalments over 108 months. Earlier this year, the airline’s CEO, Daliborka Pejović, said the carrier would sign a strategic partnership agreement with Etihad Airways over the summer, which could potentially lead to the Emirati carrier buying a stake in the airline. However, asked to comment on the announced strategic partnership, an Etihad spokesperson told EX-YU Aviation News recently that the airline does not wish to make statements on plans of such nature.