Montenegro Airlines is facing considerable problems and is in a state of neglect, the capital investment minister of the country of Montenegro, Mladen Bojanić, said this week. Furthermore, a change in government in the country earlier this month has made the prospect of Montenegro Airlines receiving state aid less likely. Thus, government officials in Montenegro are now openly discussing liquidation as a possible solution for the airline’s problems.
Montenegro Airlines in a “neglected state”
Speaking at a news conference earlier this week, the capital investment minister of Montenegro, Mladen Bojanić, said that the national airline and flag carrier of this European country is in a “neglected state”. Furthermore, he announced that the competition watchdog in the country, the Montenegrin Agency for the Protection of Competition, will not give its backing to a package of aid that Montenegro Airlines was due to receive from the state of Montenegro.
The state aid that the previous Montenegrin government wanted to give to Montenegro Airlines would have amounted to a whopping $190 million. This would have covered $30 million of debts to the government, which are in the form of unpaid taxes, and $40 million in debts to the government-owned company that operates the two airports in the country: Podgorica and Tivat.
Mr Bojanić said, on Twitter, that the professional representatives of state interests in the airline do not have “a single idea” that could lead to a “positive and sustainable future” of Montenegro Airlines.
Zaključio sam sastanak sa konstatacijom da od profesionalnih zastupnika državnih interesa u MA ne postoji niti jedna ideja koja bi mogla voditi ka pozitivnoj i održivoj budućnosti nacionalne avio kompanije. 2/3
— Mladen Bojanić (@MladenBojanic1) December 15, 2020
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Montenegro now has a government that wants reforms
The fairly serious tone of the minister’s comments needs to be put in the current political context. Earlier this month, the voters in Montenegro elected a new government. It is the first government in three decades that is not led by Montenegro’s Democratic Party of Socialists, and, as such, it is a government set on reforms.
In fact, the new Montenegrin government comprises of a dozen ministers that do not belong to any party. It is styled as a government of experts, determined to focus on economic development in Montenegro, as well as reforms and the rule of law. The reformist attitude and political independence have also given rise to a reformist attitude towards loss-making Montenegro Airlines, which the state of Montenegro owns in full.
Mr Bojanić, the capital investment minister, presented his comments on Montenegro Airlines in the context of that attitude by saying:
“This government will not run away from making any decision. We will have a good think about it, but whatever vision we may have for the company, we will not delay making decisions that have been delayed for decades. Everything has been swept under the carpet and it has been waited for someone else to assume responsibility for making unpopular decisions.”
To that end, minister Bojanić plans to bring a representative of the European Commission on board for further discussions about the options that the state of Montenegro has when it comes to Montenegro Airlines. Perhaps Montenegro will follow its neighbor Croatia and go ahead with state aid for the airline despite it being loss-making even before COVID-19. But the option of liquidation also remains on the table, according to the minister himself.
What do you think will happen to Montenegro Airlines? Have you ever used the airline’s services? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.