Montenegro’s New Airline Has A Name But No Aircraft It Can Fly

Montenegro’s new national airline will be called Air Montenegro, replacing the provisional name of ToMontenegro. However, Air Montenegro cannot start flying yet because its fleet has been grounded after an anonymous tip-off flagged up maintenance irregularities.

Montenegro Airlines
The maintenance of aircraft formerly belonging to Montenegro Airlines has been brought into question. Photo: Montenegro Airlines

ToMontenegro becomes Air Montenegro

After the Government of Montenegro had shut down Montenegro Airlines, it expressly promised to set up a new national airline. The provisional name for the project was ToMontenegro, but this has now been changed to Air Montenegro.

To help Air Montenegro get flying, the state of Montenegro transferred into its ownership two Embraer E195LR aircraft formerly belonging to Montenegro Airlines: 40-AOA and 40-AOB.

But these two Embraers have now been deemed unfit to fly. As reported in the print edition of Pobjeda earlier this month, the Montenegrin Civil Aviation Agency constituted that there were irregularities with the maintenance of the entire Montenegro Airlines fleet, including the E195s.

The Civil Aviation Agency provided the following comment to Pobjeda on this issue (translated):

“Based on the constituted irregularities, a decision has been made to temporarily withdraw the fitness to fly certificate for all the inspected aircraft. (…) This means all inspected aircraft are currently grounded.”

Montenegro Airlines Fokker 100 Frankfurt Airport
It is unclear whether former Montenegro Airlines aircraft will be able to fly for Air Montenegro soon. Photo: Tom Boon, Simple Flying

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The tip-off was anonymous

It was first thought that the fitness to fly might have been removed because the entire Montenegro Airlines fleet was grounded. However, it has since transpired that the maintenance irregularities date back to when Montenegro Airlines was still operational.

The Civil Aviation Agency acted following an anonymous tip-off. The news comes as yet another setback for the government of Montenegro which is hoping for the new national airline to start flying by early June to support the country’s tourism industry.

The Civil Aviation Agency’s Director for Security, Mileta Nikolić, did not confirm that the aircraft will be fit to fly by the start of this summer season. He said that the return to service of these aircraft now relies solely on the new owner, Air Montenegro.

Air Serbia A330
Air Serbia has replaced some of the seat capacity lost when Montenegro Airlines was shut down, but far from all. Photo: Getty Images

Montenegro is missing its national airline

Montenegro Airlines used to carry more than half of all air passengers arriving in Montenegro. Since it was shut down in December 2020, foreign airlines have stepped up their operations, but the seat capacity that was lost has not been fully replaced.

Air Serbia has been the biggest winner from the collapse of Montenegro Airlines, its former codeshare partner. The Serbian flag carrier is laying on much extra capacity this Orthodox Easter holiday.

In May, Air Serbia will operate 15 weekly flights from Belgrade to Montenegro’s capital Podgorica and 9 weekly flights from Belgrade to the Adriatic airport of Tivat.

What do you think of this story? Do you think Air Montenegro will be ready to get off the ground this summer? Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below.

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