|Etihad Airways and Montenegro Airlines start negotiations|
Etihad Airways and Montenegro Airlines have held their first joint meeting since the two signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Strategic Commercial Cooperation last month. Etihad's Vice President for HR Operations, Sinead Kilkelly, and the carrier's Manager for Projects - People and Performance, Bojana Galebov, met with Montenegro Airlines' CEO Daliborka Pejović, Executive Director Lidija Pantović, as well as the Vice President of the Board of Directors Predrag Marković and the country's Deputy Prime Minister Duško Marković in Podgorica. The group discussed Montenegro Airlines' organisation structure in detail, which the Abu Dhabi-based carrier is working on revamping in a bid to boost efficiency. Furthermore, the two companies reviewed the state of the Montenegrin airline, in order to seek out models for improving future development and organisation.
Etihad Airways stressed it was satisfied with the level of cooperation shown by its Montenegrin counterpart so far, as well as the quality of information the airline has passed on. In a statement, the Montenegrin government said, "Mr Marković [Deputy Prime Minister], briefed Etihad on the current political and economic trends in the country and expressed the government's full support for the implementation of the Strategic Cooperation Agreement between the two airlines, adding that the partnership will contribute to the competitiveness of Montenegro Airlines". Simmilar talks were held between the Emirati carrier and Jat Airways prior to its part-takeover by Etihad. Montenegro Airlines' CEO, Daliborka Pejović, said earlier the Agreement could eventually lead to an equity investment on behalf of Etihad. In 2011, the Montenegrin government offered a 30% stake in its national airline. At the time, Etihad purchased the tender documentation but never made a takeover bid and the privatisation process ultimately failed.
The MoU for Strategic Commercial Cooperation between the two carriers is expected to 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, Montenegro will forge closer ties with Etihad's partner airlines, while the Abu Dhabi-based carrier will also assist in overhauling Montenegro Airlines' organisational structure. The new partnership is also set to boost synergies between the two carriers, providing Montenegro Airlines access to benefits enjoyed by Etihad and its partners on the market. The Montenegrin carrier said the MoU marks the first step towards a full strategic partnership.