|Seven pilots leave Montenegro Airlines|
Montenegro Airlines has been dealt a blow after five of its captains left the company this month, while another two quit their jobs in May over low wages. The head of the carrier's pilot union, Ljubiša Mihajlović, has blamed the airline's management for the exodus, adding that pilots felt "cheated" by top executives. "Since two of our renowned pilots left before the summer, we held talks with CEO Daliborka Pejović in June in order to avoid a further departure of our crew members. We reached an agreement to increase captain wages by up to 900 euros (i.e. regular pay for thirty hours of flying and then an additional forty euros for every additional hour of flying), because our salaries are significantly lower compared to other airlines", Mr Mihajlović says. He adds, "She [Ms Pejović] agreed to the idea and took it to the Board of Directors a week later where the Executive Director, Živko Banjević, vetoed the proposal".
Last night, Mr Banjević resigned from his post as Executive Director and announced he was leaving the company after thirteen years. Over the weekend, Montenegro Airlines was forced to cancel two of its flights (Podgorica - Belgrade and Tivat - Paris) due to a lack of crew. The carrier attempted to cover up the problem, saying its pilots were either sick or on holiday leave. However, the five pilots which left the airline earlier this month confirmed they have quit. Four of the seven captains have transferred to the Turkish-based Borajet. One of the affected pilots said, "I decided to leave Montenegro Airlines in June after the management failed to live up to our agreement. That's when I decided I don't want to work for people who lie, such as Mr Banjević, who directly lied to us. Since I have worked for the airline since it was established, I didn't leave in June but waited for the busy summer season to end and decided to leave this month".
Montenegro Airlines is believed to have enough pilots for the upcoming slower winter months but could face problems next summer. Mr Mihajlović says other captains are also considering leaving the airline in the coming months. For its part, Montenegro Airlines says, "With respect to all the facts and pilots' immeasurable contribution to the company, we have no intention to argue through the media". Montenegro Airlines has been facing financial difficulties for years. It reported a net loss of 6.5 million euros during the first half of 2015, with its accumulated debt at 71.5 million euros. It handled 409.906 passengers during the first eight months of 2015, up 3.4% compared to the same period last year.