Europe's largest low cost airline, Ryanair, says it plans further expanding its operation from Montenegro after it announced the launch of its third route to the country, from Berlin to Podgorica, scheduled for this September. "This is the right time to come and expand our operations in Montenegro. Unfortunately, over the past three years, our growth has been limited due to fleet constraints, however, with the arrival of new aircraft we will certainly introduce new flights to Serbia and Montenegro. We are extremely interested in including Tivat to our network", the airline's Route Manager, Luis Fernandez-Mellado, says. "We have to concede that Eastern Europe is growing slowly in terms of new routes for us. However, we are trying, which is why we recently announced new services to Sofia, Niš and Podgorica. It's all part of our strategy. Ten aircraft are set to join our fleet soon, which will further fuel our network growth", Mr Fernandez-Mellado notes.
However, the no frills carrier warns that high fees at Montenegro's two international airports - Podgorica and Tivat - continue to be an issue. The country is one of the most expensive for Ryanair, with its charges exceeding other Eastern European nations. "The main issue with Montenegrin airports is that their fees are non-competitive, especially when compared to Greece or other similar holiday destinations. That is the main reason we are so late on the market, as we are more focused on more accessible destinations elsewhere. Tivat is one of the airports that is very appealing to us. If its fees were lower it would have been part of our plans much earlier", the carrier's Route Manager explains. He adds, "The expense of flying one passenger from Europe to Montenegro is much higher than, say, to Cyprus. That presents a big business barrier for us and is slowing our growth. There is no magic formula - the market is stimulated by low fares. That's a fact".
Ryanair currently operates flights from Charleroi and London to Podgorica, with services from Berlin to be introduced in a few months. The airline estimates it will carry some 90.000 passengers on the three routes within a one-year period. "Between London and Podgorica, some 85% of travellers are those living in Britain, but we can't estimate whether they are visiting family and friends or going on holiday. However, we can confirm that during the summer, flights to Montenegro are in demand, while during the winter, flights from Montenegro are more popular", the airline says. "Those travelling to Montenegro for a holiday on our flights usually stay for six days", the airline concludes.