Montenegro Airlines d.o.o., operating as Montenegro Airlines, is the national carrier airline of the country of Montenegro, and flag carrier of the Montenegro, headquartered in Podgorica. It operates scheduled services in Europe, as well as charter flights throughout Europe during the summer months. Its primary hub is Podgorica Airport, and its second base is at Tivat Airport. All Montenegro Airlines flights are international, as Montenegro's two airports are 80 kilometres (50 mi) away from each other.
The airline was founded on 24 October 1994, by the government of Montenegro (then a part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), but the first aircraft, a Fokker 28 Mk4000 (nicknamed "Lovćen") was only purchased in the autumn of 1996 and the first flight was made on 7 May 1997, at exactly 22:30 between Podgorica and Bari, Italy. Another Fokker 28 Mk4000 was purchased in July 1998.
A temporary ban on flights within the European Union was lifted on 23 October 1999. New flights began to Frankfurt, Germany. At the end of that year, Montenegro Airlines established flights to Zurich, Ljubljana, Skopje, Istanbul and Budapest.
Montenegro Airlines Fokker 100 at Domodedovo Airport
In April 2000, Montenegro Airlines became a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In June 2000 the first Fokker F100 aircraft was delivered to Podgorica Airport. Montenegro Airlines purchased their second Fokker F100 in May 2001, and their third in June 2002. Their fourth Fokker F100 was purchased in the beginning of 2003. The airline joined Amadeus CRS on 5 March 2003. In 2004, Montenegro Airlines' pilots were the first in the region to be granted the IIIA certificate.
Montenegro Airlines carried its millionth passenger on 2 July 2004. The same year they carried a record 370,000 passengers. Montenegro Airlines carried its two-millionth passenger on 14 June 2006.
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 separate airline in Serbia, Master Airways, yet it was denied of operating licence, due to the alleged Serbian Government protectionist policies.
On 23 July 2007, Montenegro Airlines ordered 2 Embraer 195 in order to grow its fleet and destination network. The aircraft will be leased from GECAS for the period of 8 years. The first of the two Embraer E-195s arrived at Podgorica Airport on 5 June 2008. The delivery of the first Embraer was followed by introduction of regular flights to London Gatwick Airport and Milan Malpensa International Airport.
On 16 September 2008, the airline announced that it will order one more Embraer 195, which will not be leased but bought for 31 million USD, and put an option on the fourth Embraer 195. This will potentially grow its fleet to four Embraers.
Montenegro Airlines is currently in process of privatisation. It will initially offer 30% of the stock, and the most probable partner is European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Government of Montenegro may later choose to completely sell the remainder of the stock.
On 17 April 2009, El Al Israel Airlines and Montenegro Airlines issued a joint statement reiterating El Al's keen interest in buying 30% of the stock, but the plan failed. El Al's subsidiary, Sun d'Or International Airlines, has begun, as of 28 May 2009, a scheduled service between Tivat Airport and Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport.
The second Embraer 195 arrived at Podgorica Airport on 23 May 2009 while the third Embaer 195 arrived at Podgorica Airport on 18 July 2010