Sun, 05 Feb 2023

PODGORICA, Montenegro - The national airline of Montenegro is to be shut down.

Heavily in debt, the airline has struggled with the burden of the pandemic which has added to the airline's debt woes.

The Montenegro government has been providing subsidies but has made the decision to terminate any further support.

"We cannot take any decision that would be legal ... to prolong the life of Montenegro Airlines," the Montenegro Minister of Investment Mladen Bojanic said at a press conference on Sunday.

360 people will lose their jobs in the shutdown, which will around €50 million ($61m).

"We cannot take any decision that would be legal ... to prolong the life of Montenegro Airlines"

Mladen Bojanic, Minister of Investment

Despite the failure of the airline,

another carrier is likely to be launched in 6 to nine months time, according to Bojanic.

Linking the tiny Balkan nation to 30 global destinations, Montenegro Airlines was founded in 1994, and flew its first route in 1997.

In the first 9 months of this, Montenegro Airlines' traffic dropped 80 percent compared with the same nine months in 2019.

A €155 million rescue plan was put together in December last year, well ahead of the pandemic, but a complaint by Irish carrier Ryanair to the European Commission resulted in it having to be scrapped.

"Closing down a company is simple and quick, even if it is the national company. But it can also be very risky and imprudent, especially in a country where a quarter of GDP is generated in the tourism sector," Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic said Sunday.

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