UPDATED at 21.00
Despite the cancelation of all of Jat Airways’ flights tonight, there is still hope that the strike will end in the late evening hours. The government is still, at this moment, talking to both Jat Tehnika and Jat Airways about a possible end to the dispute. Jat Airways says that Jat Tehnika will inccure the biggest loss from this industrial action. The airline says that Jat Tehnika will be obliged to pay up all losses that Jat has incurred due to the strike and said that if Jat Tehnika has no aircraft to service from Jat Airways, the company will go bankrupt.
Jat Tehnika has continued its strike grounding Jat’s entire fleet and leaving thousands of passengers angry and without flights. Jat Airways has done all it can to secure seats on other airlines for the grounded passengers and has also offered hotel accommodation to those passengers that have been delayed by more than 24 hours. Jat’s CEO Srđan Radovanović claims that in the past 48 hours the airline has lost 500.000 Euros and has labelled the behaviour of the technician’s trade union as selfish. Still, a breakthrough is expected to occur on Thursday evening when the government will discuss the current dispute between the two companies. It is speculated that flights could begin on Friday morning and that the airline would normalise its schedule during the weekend. The Serbian government has said that the dispute will be solved by the end of the week. Yesterday the only Jat flights that took off from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport were those to Moscow, Hurghada and Sharm-el-Sheikh.
Meanwhile, a delegation from Airbus, with impeccable timing, decided to drop in for a chat with Jat’s CEO. It is believed that alarm bells have gone off at Airbus after Boeing’s recent visit to Serbia. Heading the Airbus delegation is Gregory Desois, Airbus’s sale manager for Eastern Europe and Monique Brepson, EADS vice president. These high ranking officials have come to discuss the airline’s 1998 order for 8 aircraft. The order, which cannot be cancelled, is extremely damaging for Jat. At the time the order was made Jat could not order aircraft from the United Sates (namely from Boeing) due to sanctions. Thus, Airbus decided to significantly inflate its price knowing that Jat had no choice. Jat is hoping it can exchange the order for 8 ATR72-600 aircraft. The two Airbus representatives told Jat’s CEO that they know all about striking technicians, pointing towards their own recent troubles with aircraft engineers in Toulouse.
Updates regarding the strike throughout the day.