Government confirms Turkish interest in Montenegro AirlinesThe Government of Montenegro has confirmed that Turkish Airlines is interested in taking over the country’s national carrier as it heads towards a second privatisation attempt in two years. Officials in Podgorica are certain that, unlike last year, the airline will be sold this time around. According to the government, the strongest interest has been shown by Turkish Airlines. Officials from the airline have already visited Podgorica and discussed potential investment in the Montenegrin carrier. However, there is a catch. In return for buying Montenegro Airlines, Turkish expects to gain full control over Podgorica and Tivat airports. Earlier this year, the head of the Airports of Montenegro company said that selling hubs in Podgorica and Tivat would be a disastrous decision, adding that airports form an integral part of a country’s infrastructure system. The comments came back in January when the Turkish operator Limak announced its interest in taking over Montenegro’s airports.
In 2010, 30% of Montenegro Airlines shares were offered to potential partners with the possibility to increase the ownership stake a year later. Although three airlines (El Al Israel, Arkia and Etihad Airways) purchased the tender documentation, none of them put in an offer.
Turkish Airlines operates flights to every capital city in the former Yugoslavia. It owns 49% of B&H Airlines. Although long rumoured to be interested in taking over Jat Airways such a scenario did not materialise. Furthermore, Limak is the operator of Priština Airport while the Turkish TAV Holdings runs both Skopje and Ohrid. Turkish operators have also applied for the tender to build the new terminal at Zagreb Airport.