Ex-Yugoslav carriers to forge closer ties

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Airlines from four countries in the former Yugoslavia will work more closely together in future following an agreement hammered out at a meeting over the past weekend.

The leaders of Croatia Airlines, Serbia's Jat Airways and Slovenian carrier Adria Airways were brought together on 19 May in an initiative driven by Montenegro Airlines.

Several of the carriers have struggled over recent years. Serbia's government has been unable to find a buyer for stricken Jat and Adria received a €50 million ($69 million) bail-out from the Slovene government last September.

Faced with a worsening economic climate, the airlines have agreed to closer collaboration in order to find a "common solution", says Montenegro Airlines in a statement.

Describing the discussions as "highly constructive", Zoran Durisic, president of Montenegro Airlines, says the carriers came up with "concrete ideas" on how to respond the challenging business environment.

Areas of potential co-operation include an expansion of existing code-share and interline agreements to include possible fleet sharing "to maximise the utilisation of individual capacities".

Flight schedules may also be harmonised and the carriers could adopt a joint approach to regulators. Joint procurement of fuel and equipment will also be considered.

The carriers will form working parties to investigate how the changes can be implemented. A second meeting will take place in June.