Strong Start: Air Montenegro Handles 100,000 Passengers In Its First Six Months

Air Montenegro handled its 100,000th passenger last week. With this milestone, let’s take a look at how this startup national airline of Montenegro has been doing this year.

Strong Start: Air Montenegro Handles 100,000 Passengers In Its First Six Months
Air Montenegro is the new national airline and flag carrier of Montenegro. Photo: Air Montenegro

Air Montenegro handles 100,000 passengers

In a Facebook post a week ago, Air Montenegro announced that it had handled its 100,000th passenger.

The milestone represents a significant moment in the history of this startup airline, which was expressly created this year to replace Montenegro Airlines, the former flag carrier and national airline of Montenegro.

Montenegro Airlines was shut down by the Montenegrin Government in December 2020 over growing debts. Air Montenegro started flying in June 2021 already, having been created from scratch. It flies with Embraer aircraft formerly belonging to Montenegro Airlines.

Air Montenegro was created because Montenegro is the European country most heavily reliant on tourism for its GDP. Being a remote destination for its key emitting markets like Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, the country badly needs a national airline to supply seat capacity on routes that foreign airlines will not consider sufficiently profitable.

Air Montenegro
Air Montenegro has a livery, but neither of its two aircraft bear it (yet). Photo: Air Montenegro

An airline created speedily

The speed at which Air Montenegro was created is remarkable: just six months passed between when Montenegro Airlines was abruptly shut down and when Air Montenegro started flying.

This is remarkable because Montenegro’s state institutions had no contingency plan when they shut down Montenegro Airlines, and they also had no experience in setting up state airlines from scratch.

The 100,000 passengers accumulated by Air Montenegro in its first six months of operations are a solid result in these pandemic times with a fleet of just two Embraer E-195 aircraft.

Air Montenegro achieved this in difficult circumstances: Montenegro’s vaccination rate lags behind the rates of other European nations significantly, and cases in Montenegro have been very high. This even prompted the UK to put Montenegro on its red list this summer, sparking chaos for many airlines, including a heavily-delayed easyJet rescue flight that landed in the UK two minutes before the red list kicked in at 04:00 in the morning.

Air Montenegro inherited aircraft from Montenegro Airlines when the Montenegrin government purchased them from one airline for the other. Photo: Aktug Ates via Wikimedia

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What is the state of the airline now?

Air Montenegro has two Embraer E-195 aircraft: 4O-AOA and 4O-AOB. The former flies on a regular basis while the latter is parked.

The airline has the following flights on sale at the moment:

  • Podgorica (TGD) to Belgrade (BEG)
  • Podgorica (TGD) to Ljubljana (LJU)
  • Podgorica (TGD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Tivat (TIV) to Istanbul (IST)
  • Tivat (TIV) to Belgrade (BEG)

With Montenegro being a summer seasonal holiday destination, and with Air Montenegro having enough capacity for a whole string of new routes that could be operated with the second Embraer aircraft that is currently idle, it is expected that the airline will operate more routes in the summer of 2022.

However, with travel restrictions ongoing and with tough competition from Air Serbia, Ryanair, Wizz Air, easyJet, and the Lufthansa Group in the market, among others, Air Montenegro will continue to struggle to operate profitably until it expands operations much more and reaches economies of scale.

What do you think of Air Montenegro’s performance in its first six months of operations? Let us know in the comments below.