Montenegro Airlines has seen its passenger numbers grow during the first five months of the year, with Slovenia persisting as the carrier's fastest growing market. The Montenegrin airline welcomed 157.000 travellers on board its aircraft during the January - May period, an increase of 4.6% compared to the same period last year. The carrier recorded passenger growth on key markets including Serbia and Russia. "Responsible network planning, which included a reduction in frequencies to certain destinations with lower demand, has resulted in a significant decrease in operating costs and a 3% increase in the average cabin load factor", the airline said in a statement.
Montenegro Airlines registered an additional 3.500 passengers on its flights from Podgorica to Ljubljana, as well as an extra 600 travellers on its service from Tivat to St Petersburg, when compared to last year. This summer, the carrier is operating an additional weekly flights to the Slovenian capital for a total of three, while services to St Petersburg continue to be maintained four times per week, as was the case in 2015. On its two most important markets - Serbia and Russia - Montenegro Airlines also saw bullish figures. "On flights from/to Podgorica and Tivat to Belgrade we increased our passenger numbers by 2% during the first five months, while on services to Moscow we saw a 20% increase, despite strong competition from Russian carriers", the airline noted. Other destinations which also saw an improvement in figures include Dusseldorf (+8.4%), Zurich (+6.5) and Paris (+6.4%). Thanks to its performance, the airline has been granted a number of incentives from Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Despite its growing passenger numbers, the airline still faces financial difficulties. Last week, the Montenegrin government blocked a decision to grant the debt-ridden carrier a further 500.000 euros in support. Furthermore, Montenegro's Finance Ministry is moving to collect unpaid taxes amounting to some 230 million euros owed by state-run companies, which are considered to be close to Prime Minister Milo Djukanović's government, among which is Montenegro Airlines. It comes after an opposition minister, Raško Konjević, took the post three weeks ago. The carrier's debt towards the state is estimated at twelve million euros, although the exact figure is expected to be known next week when the parliament's Economy and Budget Committee holds a hearing with the Finance Minister and the Tax Administration Office. Montenegro Airlines is believed to have recorded a 10.2 million euro net loss in 2015.