Tempers flare at Montenegro AirlinesMontenegro Airlines pilots have issued a public plea to the Government of Montenegro to save the embattled national carrier from “imminent collapse”. The airline’s pilots have requested an audience with the Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Lukšić as “the company finds itself in a difficult financial state due to incompetent management”. Pilots say that they are just starting to receive their August salaries, meaning that they haven’t been paid for three full months of work. Some are also receiving lower salaries than outlined in their contracts. The Montenegrin judiciary has warned the airline against such actions.
Montenegro Airlines CEO, Zoran Djurišić, who has been at the helm of the company since its creation in 1994, hit back at the pilots saying that the airline’s financial woes are a result of the unstable economic climate across the globe. He adds that “a group of pilots have been creating a negative working environment within the airline for the past year and a half”. Djurišić claims that Montenegro Airlines is one of the most successful airlines in Europe and that its losses are less than those of its rivals Adria Airways, Croatia Airlines and Austrian. Meanwhile, a group of Montenegro Airlines’ most experienced pilots are staying loyal to their employer saying that they are proud to work for such an airline and are satisfied with their wages. On average, a pilot at Montenegro Airlines earns 4.500 Euros per month, according to the company.
Montenegro Airlines, which keeps most of its business operations a closely guarded secret, was forced to suspend flights to Priština and Skopje due to unpaid fees earlier in the year. The Montenegrin government has written off over 3 million Euros worth of the carrier’s debt and issued state guarantees for a 9.6 million Euro loan. It recently announced that it will restructure the flag carrier in order to return it to profitability. Montenegro Airlines said, several months ago, that it should carry 600.000 passengers by the end of 2011, a 5% decrease compared to last year.