The Government of Montenegro has selected the consulting arm of Lufthansa Systems for the task of setting up ToMontenegro, the country’s new national airline, and the replacement for Montenegro Airlines. Montenegro’s economy relies on tourism more than any other economy in Europe, so the country wants ToMontenegro to start flying as soon as possible.
Lufthansa Systems selected in a tender
The Government of Montenegro has awarded a contract to Lufthansa Systems to help it set up a new national airline, ToMontenegro. ToMontenegro will replace the former flag carrier, Montenegro Airlines, which the Montenegrin government had shut down in December 2020 due to high debts.
Lufthansa Systems and the Government of Montenegro will start working on the new airline, ToMontenegro, as soon as Monday next week. The immediate priority, Montenegro’s news agency reports, is to “clearly define [the airline]’s strategy and structure”. ToMontenegro already exists as a legal entity, but it still has no Air Operator Certificate. The airline-to-be does have two aircraft though. They are both Embraer E195s, and the state of Montenegro purchased them.
The selection of the consulting arm of Lufthansa Systems to perform the task of setting up ToMontenegro in time for the summer tourism season follows an international tender that also saw applications from Boeing and PricewaterhouseCoopers. It also follows the sighting of James Hogan, the former CEO of Etihad who has an airline consultancy business in Switzerland. Hogan was spotted in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, earlier this year.
What will Lufthansa Systems do for ToMontenegro?
ToMontenegro is presently just a legal entity, but the Government of Montenegro is under great pressure to turn it into a functional airline within just a few weeks. The economy of Montenegro relies heavily on foreign tourists, and the country’s geographical distance from Western Europe makes tourism strongly reliant on the airline industry. The passenger traffic, in turn, relied heavily on the bankrupt Montenegro Airlines, which is now gone.
The time frame is very tight. Montenegro is hoping for a revival of summer tourism by late June, so that leaves ToMontenegro with less than three months to start flying. By then, the airline will need to have acquired an Air Operator Certificate and hired the staff it needs to run the business. No business strategy or a route network has been decided yet, and tickets cannot go on sale before ToMontenegro secures slots from the airports it wants to fly to.
From Montenegro Airlines to ToMontenegro
ToMontenegro is starting from scratch, but it is still hoping to pick up much of what Montenegro Airlines has left behind. This has already resulted in the acquisition of Embraer aircraft, but it could also manifest itself when ToMontenegro starts hiring cabin crew and pilots, and when it begins conducting market analyses.
Lufthansa Systems is also expected to take on the task of developing a long-term strategy for the airline. It will be interesting to see how the airline’s route network will pan out and whether it will involve the Lufthansa Group hubs of Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Zurich.
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