From this day, Serbian airline Jat will no longer exist under that name. After 66 years, it will change the name to “Air Serbia”.
The new company will be formed together with “Etihad”, foreign partner from Middle East. Serbian state will own 51 percent of the company, and “Etihad” 49, but also the management of the company.
According to projections, the new company could have 22 airplanes, while the flights will mostly connect former Yugoslav republics and Europe with Middle East, Australia and America. Etihad is a company with 77 aircrafts and has around 10 million passengers per year, and the experts agree that the arrival of that company should bring in more connections and cheaper tickets.
Predecessor of “Jat” was airline “Aeroput”, founded in 1927. Two decades later, the name was changed to Yugoslav Air Transport (Jugoslovenski aerotransport) and soon becomes leading airline in the Balkans with direct overseas flights to America and Australia.
British company “AJ Walter Aviation” wants to take part in solving problems in JAT, said representatives of that company in talks with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic.
“Serbian government is making an effort in renewing JAT’s fleet and engineering, with the goal of our national airline meeting standards expected in 21st century”, said PM Dacic, expressing satisfaction that “AJ Walter Aviation” wants to help in improving JAT engineering.
President of the British company, Christopher Whiteside, director Roger Maynard and marketing director David Brown said that “AJ Walter Aviation” is considered one of the top five biggest companies in the world which provide these kinds of services in airline industry and that they want to be part of solving the problems in JAT
Minister of traffic in Serbian government Milutin Mrkonjic also took part in the meeting, Serbian government’s press office released in a statement.
Serbian government is planning to restructure and rebrand the national air-carrier Jat Airways by the end of the year.
Serbian Finance Minister, Mladjan Dinkic, says that the current situation in the company is unsustainable. He sees declaring bankruptcy of Jat Airways as a necessity.
Serbian Transport Minister, Milutin Mrkonjic, says the government has already decided to form a separate company that would carry Jat Airways debt load in order to allow a new national air carrier to start afresh.
Serbian Finance Minister is to present a comprehensive plan for Jat Airways at one of the forthcoming government sessions. The government has refused a request from Jat Airways for further 35 million euros worth of subsidies.
According to Minister Dinkic, there are two possible scenarios for resolving the issue. If Serbia decides to form a new air carrier alone, it will have to provide the state guarantees, worth 140 million dollars in order to fulfill the existing obligation to lease 12 Airbus planes.
However, minister Dinkic says the preferable option would be a partnership with the United Arab Emirates state-run airline Etihad. He says that the principle objective of the cooperation would be construction of a cargo terminal at “Nikola Tesla” Belgrade airport, which would serve as a springboard for Serbian food export.
In 2011, the estimated loses of Jat Airways were 27 million euros. In 2010, Serbian government failed to sell the company to both Turkish Airways and Baltic Aviation Systems, while two years prior an auction collapsed due to lack of interest.
Serbian media recently reported Belgrade was negotiating to sell the airline to Air Asia. However, the Malaysian company denied its interest in the purchase.