AZAL interested in Jat?The Ministry of Economic Development of Azerbaijan has confirmed to a Serbian daily that the Government of Serbia has proposed for the Azerbaijani carrier AZAL to create a successor airline to Jat Airways. The Ministry said they are examining Jat Airways’ results and business model and are considering the proposal. Experts say that offering Jat to AZAL, a non European airline, shows the government’s desperation to get rid of the national carrier. On the other hand, some claim that the news story has been purposely planted so as to spark interest from other airlines as there is only eight days left until the tender to find a strategic partner for the creation of a successor to Jat Airways ends. No one has so far shown any interest. Similarly, a few days ago it was reported that airBaltic from Latvia was interested in purchasing Jat, a claim which has since been identified as a political stunt. airBaltic filed for protection yesterday.
Former Jat Airways CEO, Predrag Vujović, says that he doesn’t understand how Azerbaijan would benefit from a potential Jat partnership since the Caucas based airline already operates flights to most major European hubs and is in no need of slots. He also believes that the tender to create a new Jat will fail. Earlier this year AZAL expressed interest to commence flights to Zurich via Belgrade in cooperation with Jat Airways. A delegation from the Azeri Ministry of Economic Development is set to arrive in Belgrade in the next few days. The Azeris have already expressed interest to invest in infrastructure projects in Serbia. Relations between the two states have flourished since 2009.
Jat Airways has some 1.200 employees and recorded a loss of 25 million Euros in 2010. In the first eight months of this year it carried 830.670 passengers, an increase of 14% compared to the same period last year. A total of 12 of the airline’s 14 aircraft are in operation. Most of the aircraft date from the mid 1980s and early 1990s.