Montenegro Airlines a.d. (Montenegrin: Монтенегро ерлајнс / Montenegro erlajns), operating as Montenegro Airlines, is the flag carrier of Montenegro, headquartered in Podgorica. The company is currently completely state-owned and enjoys financial and protectionist support from the government. It operates scheduled services in Europe, as well as charter flights throughout Europe during the summer months. Its primary hub is Podgorica Airport, and a second base is maintained at Tivat Airport. There are no domestic flights because the two airports are too close to each other, with only 80 kilometres (50 mi) keeping them apart.
The airline was founded on October 24, 1994 by the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The first aircraft, a Fokker 28 Mk4000 (nicknamed "Lovćen"), was purchased almost two years later in 1996. The first commercial flight took place on May 7, 1997, at exactly 10:30 between Podgorica and Bari, Italy.
After the Montenegrin independence referendum, Serbia became an international market for Montenegrin companies. Montenegro Airlines had to cease international flights from Serbia to countries other than Montenegro, thus losing the profitable Niš - Zurich line, due to lack of Seventh Freedom policy. In an effort to circumvent this, Montenegro Airlines registered a separate airline in Serbia called Master Airways, but it was denied an operating license allegedly due to Serbian Government protectionist policies.
The Embraer 195 is the largest aircraft operated by Montenegro Airlines.
On April 17, 2009, El Al and Montenegro Airlines issued a joint statement reiterating El Al's keen interest in buying 30% of the stock, but the plan failed. The airline remains a government-owned company.
^1 After the arrival of the first pair of E-195s, Montenegro Airlines requested Embraer to change the remaining backlog order to the E-175. However, the third E-195 was delivered anyway, and thus the fourth remaining order was to be an E-175. On July 6, 2012, local media cited that Montenegro Airlines has yet again changed the fourth order, this time requesting an E-190LR model. The aircraft is expected to be in service by April 2014.
Incidents and accidents
On 25 January 2005 at about 11 p.m., a Montenegro Airlines Fokker 100 (YU-AOM) ran off the side of the runway during a night landing in snowy conditions at Podgorica. The nosegear collapsed and the airplane skidded for about 700 meters before coming to rest. Two passengers, the pilot, and the copilot sustained minor injuries. The airline was sued by passengers, as it was the only airline to operate flights to Podgorica that evening (other airlines canceled flights due to insufficient ice clearance technology at Podgorica Airport).
On 7 January 2008, at about 9:30 pm, a Montenegro Airlines Fokker 100 (4O-AOK) was shot at while landing at Podgorica Airport. A routine inspection of the aircraft led to the discovery of a bullet hole in the aircraft's tail. The aircraft was carrying 20 passengers, but none was injured. The reason for the incident is unknown; however, reports indicate that it may have been an inadvertent result of guns being fired during celebrations for Orthodox Christmas.
On 14 June 2013, at 6:00 pm, Montenegro Airlines Fokker 100 took off on a scheduled flight from Podgorica to Belgrade when the pilots discovered problem with the landing gear which didn't retract after taking off. Plane circled around due to full fuel tank that needed to be emptied in order to land. No injuries or fatalities were recorded as plane safely landed at Podgorica Airport.