PODGORICA – Israel’s El Al is in talks to buy 30 percent of state-owned Montenegro Airlines, officials from the two airlines said on Monday.
The government said three years ago it would sell a third of Montenegro Airlines, which is in need of cash to overhaul its tiny fleet, but set no deadline.
Talks with the El Al will continue throughout 2009, Haim Romano, head of El Al’s board, told a news conference in the capital of Podgorica. “We will talk more,” he said.
Montenegro Airlines flies five Fokker 100 and a sole Embraer 195 aircraft from two airports to destinations elsewhere in Europe.
Zoran Djurisic, chairman of Montenegro Airlines, said the company was also negotiating the sale of stakes to Slovenian airline Adria and Russia’s Air Union. It had also held talks with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, he said without elaborating.
The sale of a 30 percent stake should be completed by the end of December, he added.
Montenegro, a small Balkan country of 650,000 people, is trying to prop up its economy to absorb the impact of the global crisis. To supplement its 1.6 billion euro ($2.1 billion) budget, the government also plans to sell a stake in its power monopoly as well as wooing investors for a major tourist resort along its Adriatic coast.