Montenegro Airlines expects for its passenger numbers to decline this year as it consolidates its operations and optimises its network. The Montenegrin carrier said, "Plans for 2017 are based on the reduction of costs and the maximum utilisation of all available capacity, as well as business optimisation on all levels. As a result, and keeping in mind the state of the existing fleet, the company anticipates a decrease in the number of passengers, with an improved average cabin load factor. This summer season, instead of six, only five aircraft will be in operation", the airline said in a statement. Last year, the carrier returned its sole Embaer E190 jet to its owner, noting that the move resulted in savings of up to three million euros over the winter. The carrier says it could lease an additional aircraft during the peak summer months, if the need arises.
Montenegro Airlines saw only a 0.6% increase in its passenger numbers in 2016, when compared to the year before. The carrier handled 581.519 travellers. The growth was achieved despite a notable reduction in the number of operated flights, which stood at 8.607, down 8.7%. Although the airline's passenger figures improved 3% on scheduled services, the number of travellers on charter flights plummeted 35%. On flights to Belgrade, its most important market, Montenegro Airlines carried a total of 264.562 passengers, up 2% on 2015. It was followed by Moscow and Paris, which remain the strongest destinations for the carrier. It handled 80.952 passengers to Moscow, an increase of 3.5%, and 37.665 travellers on services to the French capital, the same as the year before.
The Montenegrin carrier is yet to publish its financial results for 2016. It is believed the airline improved its finances compared to the record losses in excess of ten million euros registered in 2015. So far this year, Montenegro Airlines has been beset by numerous challenges. It dealt with a silent protest by its co-pilots and underwent a change in management. Furthermore, the CEO of Montenegro Airlines, Živko Banjević, and a further seven people have been placed under investigation for concluding a damaging agreement with a consultancy firm in 2015, owned by Serbia's former Finance Minister, Mladjan Dinkić, for business and financial advice in talks with Etihad Airways. The airline has denied any wrongdoing.