Montenegro Airlines has ceased operations after the country’s government refused to extend a financial lifeline to the beleaguered carrier.
Official: Montenegro Airlines Ceased Operations
Founded in 1994 by Yugoslavia, Montenegro Airlines first took off in 1997 and has served European destinations for the last 23 years. The Montenegrin flag carrier had a fleet of Embraer 195 and Fokker 100s and operated a mix of scheduled and charter service.
But with the summer tourist season rendered impossible by the pandemic, the airline faced a cash crunch it could not overcome. Still, COVID-19 was a co-morbidity, not the sole cause of death. Over the past serval years, Montenegro Airlines has built up a debt of over 150 million Euros. The coronavirus simply became the final nail in the coffin.
After propping up the airline for years, the new conservative governing coalition refused further state aid, leaving Montenegro Airlines no choice but to liquidate. Employees have not been paid since September and the government accused the airline of mismanagement characterized by “numerous omissions and shortcomings.”
That may have been the overarching sentiment, but the immediate threat was aircraft repossessions across Europe for unpaid debt.
The airline thanked passengers for “the years of trust, travel and friendship,” but now leaves customers holding confirmed tickets empty-handed.
Meanwhile, the government promises a new national airlines will arise in the months ahead.
Montenegro Airlines becomes the latest casualty of the pandemic, though it has faced problems for years. I understand the government’s willingness to abandon the carrier with debt so staggering. Still, if an established carrier with an efficient fleet could not make it, I’m not sure a new start-up will fare any better unless workers are paid slave wages.
Did you ever fly Montenegro Airlines? Will You miss it?