A European fund is considering investing jointly in both Croatia Airlines and Montenegro Airlines in return for shares, EX-YU Aviation News has learned. According to sources, the fund is pondering over the potential investments but has made contacts in Croatia, which it has deemed as a higher priority market due to its potential and size. Although the two airlines differ in various aspects, the investor has recognised that both have a similar passenger structure due to the existing tourism industry in the two countries. The fund has limited investments in the aviation sector. Currently, the only national carrier in the former Yugoslavia which is owned by an investment and restructuring company is Adria Airways, which was purchased by Munich-based 4K Invest last year.
Croatia Airlines' CEO, Krešimir Kučko, recently said that the carrier is in contact with financial institutions and investment funds over its future and could draft a proposal to its majority owner, the government, over plans to seek a new strategic partner by year's end. Mr Kučko noted that following its restructuring, Croatia Airlines is now a "stable and prospective company with a clear direction for future development". On the other hand, in February, Montenegro Airlines was removed from a list of state-owned companies slated for privatisation this year due to low interest. However, the governemnt has said it will add the company to the list once there is sufficient interest.
Several years ago, Croatia Airlines and its Montenegrin counterpart drafted plans to strengthen their ties. Montenegro Airlines was to commence services from Podgorica to Zagreb and feed Croatia Airlines' Western European network. Local media reported that the Croatian carrier was also interested in a stake in Montenegro Airlines. However, several months later, the Montenegrin national airline changed course and dropped its plans for closer cooperation with the Croatian carrier, opting instead to work with Air Serbia and the Etihad Aviation Group. In 2012, Croatia's former Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, announced the possibility of merging Croatia Airlines, Adria Airways and Montenegro Airlines into a holding company, similar to International Airlines Group (IAG), which was founded by British Airways and Spain’s Iberia. A year later, Croatia Airlines' Deputy Vice President for Marketing and Network at the time, Mirko Talović, said the Croatian carrier was willing to merge its operations with Adria Airways but that the move was blocked by politicians from both countries. He noted that the second phase of the airline’s development would have included a merger with Montenegro Airlines.