Etihad Airways has presented its plans to return Montenegro Airlines to profitability and improve the carrier's overall business. The two sides held talks in Abu Dhabi during the week where Etihad's Chief Strategy and Planning Officer, Kevin Knight, Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy, Francois Oberholzer, and Vice President for HR Operations, Sinead Kilkelly, discussed in detail ways in which to improve Montenegro Airlines' finances. The two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Strategic Commercial Cooperation in November last year, which could lead to an eventual equity investment on Etihad's behalf. Over the past few months, the Emirati carrier has been screening Montenegro Airlines' business operations.
Etihad's plans outline for Montenegro Airlines to significantly boost frequencies on profitable routes and improve its overall fleet efficiency. Furthermore, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates has identified potential codeshare partners which would give Montenegro Airlines access to an additional fifty destinations. 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 measures are expected to increase passenger numbers, support the local tourism industry and generate a profit for the carrier in a relatively short period of time. In a statement, the Montenegrin airline said, "This will promote Montenegro in the international arena as an attractive tourist and investment destination, which will stimulate the country's overall economic development".
The talks in Abu Dhabi were attended by Montenegro Airlines' CEO, Daliborka Pejović, the Vice President of the Board of Directors, Predrag Marković, and the Director General for Air Transport at the Montenegrin Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs, Nebojša Krstajić. Montenegro Airlines emphasised it continues to be in state hands. However, Montenegro's Privatisation Council has listed the country's national carrier for sale in 2016. The state has offered to sell a minority stake in the airline. It is the third consecutive year the carrier has been listed for privatisation. Montenegro Airlines handled 557.000 passengers in 2015, up 4% on the year before, and recorded a net loss of 6.5 million euros during the first half of last year (full year financial results are yet to be published). It has accumulated 71.5 million euros in debt.