Montenegro Airlines closes down after chronic financial losses

The chronically loss-making national airline of Montenegro has gone out of business, with 360 staff losing their jobs.

The final flight was YM103 from Belgrade in Serbia to its hub, Podgorica, on Christmas Day. On an earlier flight on 25 December  between the two capitals, the pilots traced out a partial heart shape with their flight path.

Montenegro Airlines was created in 1994, towards the end of the Yugoslav civil war. It has been financially supported by the government of the former Yugoslav republic for most of its existence.

The carriers fleet comprised just four commuter jets: three Embraer 195s and a single Fokker 100 – which was 31 years old

In 2019, the airline flew 657,276 passengers – fewer than Ryanair carried in just two days. 

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Ryanair had complained to the European Union about what it said was illegal state aid to the Montenegrin carrier.

Montenegro Airlines’ main routes connected Podgorica with London Gatwick, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Paris, Rome, Vienna and Zurich, with some holiday flights to and from the resort airport of Tivat.

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In early March, shortly before coronavirus prompted a near-shutdown of aviation across Europe, Montenegro Airlines announced plans to close its offices in London and elsewhere.

Like all European carriers, it was hit extremely hard by the pandemic.

The government in Podgorica has announced its intention to found a new national carrier.

Another airline from the former Yugoslavia, Adria Airlines of Slovenia, went bust in September 2019.

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