Montenegro Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Predrag Marković, has resigned from his post in protest over a recent wide-ranging codeshare agreement signed with Air Serbia, which he fears will result in the carrier becoming a feeder to its Serbian counterpart. Speaking to the “Vijesti” daily, Mr Marković said, “Among other things, I resigned as a result of the Air Serbia agreement. In that particular case, I believe Montenegro Airlines’ interests have not been properly protected, seeing as we have a leading position on the market compared to our competitor, with a tendency for future growth". He added, “Personally, I hope I am wrong and that the company benefits from this arrangement. Time will tell. In any case, I wish the airline all the best in the future”. Mr Marković, who is also the son of the Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro, Duško Marković, leaves the company after seven years.
The closer ties between Montenegro Airlines and Air Serbia will also see a change in departure times on flights between Podgorica and Belgrade, according to “Vijesti”. Citing company sources, the newspaper notes that it has been proposed for Montenegro Airlines to operate three daily flights between the two capital cities during the winter season, with departure times from Podgorica at 05.05, 10.00 and 21.50. As a result, the last departure from Belgrade to Podgorica will operate at 01.00 in the morning. The proposal has caused unease among some at Montenegro Airlines who believe the slots are highly unfavorable and will impact on the airline’s passenger numbers. On the other hand, Air Serbia's slots and frequencies will remain unchanged, according to the daily, and the more favorable flight times will likely result in a 50% passenger increase on the route. Serbia is Montenegro Airlines’ biggest market. The carrier handled 114.953 passengers between Podgorica, Tivat and Belgrade during the first half of the year.
In August, Air Serbia and Montenegro Airlines established closer ties by inking a code share arrangement, marking the first major development since the latter concluded a commercial strategic partnership deal with Etihad Airways last year. Following a decision made by Montenegro Airlines' Board of Directors to commence cooperation with its Serbian counterpart, the two sides agreed for the Montenegrin carrier to codeshare on Air Serbia's flights from Belgrade to 32 destinations, among which is New York. In return, Air Serbia will codeshare on Montenegro Airlines' flights from Belgrade to Podgorica and Tivat, as well as from Podgorica to Rome. The deal will come into effect on October 1. The President of the Montenegro Airlines Board of Directors, Daliborka Pejović, described the deal with Air Serbia as "an exceptional opportunity for helping us find a future strategic partner". She added, "We believe that signing the codeshare agreement with Air Serbia is an extraordinary opportunity for the future of Montenegro Airlines. In doing so, we have opened the door of our national airline to enter Etihad Airways Partners, with airlines such as Alitalia and Air Berlin".