Serbia is considering ways to make its loss making national carrier Jat Airways attractive to investors, such as taking on its debt and paying for redundancies, the prime minister said on Friday. Mirko Cvetković told Reuters that the current situation at Jat was so dire that "not only will no one give you a single penny, but you will have to pay someone to come in". Serbia has long sought to find a buyer or partner for Jat and, earlier this week, the government said it would launch a tender next month to find a partner to revive its national carrier. Cvetković said the plan is under discussion and is modeled after that used recently to sell Greece's Olympic Airlines. "This model basically means that you create a new core and the new core is (taking over) the activity of the existing company while the government takes care of the redundant workers and the assets of the existing companies and obviously the credit" he said. "If we are paying, which we will probably have to do, then why don't we start at the very beginning and (with) this payment ... resolve the inherited problems in the area of creditors and redundant people".
Serbia, which is Jat's largest creditor, is seeking a partner to take a 51% stake, although any carrier not party to the open skies agreement could get a 49% stake and Serbia would sell off another 2% to another firm to retain only a minority stake, Cvetković said.
This is yet another in a line of promises when it comes to the sale of Serbia’s national carrier. So far, politicians have said that various companies have been interested in purchasing Jat, from Air Berlin to a former chips factory owner, but none of them came true. Less than a month ago Cvetković himself said that Jat shouldn’t be sold in 2010. Now it seems his tune has changed. What happens next remains to be seen.