Thursday, April 1, 2010

“Serbia needs Jat Airways”

Government sides with Jat
As talk of privatisation and strategic partnership for one of Serbia’s largest publicly owned companies continues, the Serbian Government has for the first time in many years stepped up its rhetoric in favour of the airline’s existence. The Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Božidar Djelić, said on Tuesday that even though Jat Airways is having problems, Serbs would be “disadvantaged” without a national carrier, the B92 network reports. “I think Jat will be able to battle with the competition”, Djelić said. Djelić noted that entry visas to the European Union have been abolished and the market has been liberalised, adding that competition will make Jat stronger. The announcement comes after Serbia’s Prime Minister, Mirko Cvetković, said last week that the Government is considering covering all of Jat’s debt and brining the airline’s balance sheets back to zero.

Meanwhile, Jat has announced that Lufthansa Technic has won in a bid to perform work on engines on 2 of Jat’s Boeing B737-300s which have been grounded for months. The work must be completed by June 1, according to the agreement. From today, Jat becomes the first airline in the world to issue free travel insurance to its passengers. All Serbian citizens travelling with Jat to any destination within the European Union will receive free health insurance cover of up to 5.000 Euros. Prior to the visa liberalisation, Serbian citizens were required to take out travel insurance with their visa applications. Jat’s CEO, Srdjan Radovanović, said, “Thanks to free health insurance, Jat Airways’ passengers will be going to Europe safely. This is a way for us to beat our competitors. I believe that Jat, with or without a strategic partner, will find its place in the open Serbian sky in order for Belgrade to become a regional air centre and a business centre for South East Europe”.

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