Government determined to set up new national airlineThe Serbian Ministry for Infrastructure has announced that it will go ahead with the creation of a successor national carrier to Jat Airways even if a strategic partner for the new venture is not found. The Ministry said it hopes to begin talks with Baltic Aviation Systems, the only enterprise to purchase the tender documentation for the creation of the new state carrier. They have been given a month to send in their offer, after which “flexible” negations are set to take place in December. Baltic Aviation Systems is headed by a group of businessmen who partly own Latvia’s national carrier, airBaltic.
Milutin Mrkonjić, the Minister for Infrastructure, said that neither Turkish Airlines nor Aeroflot, who have in the past been linked to Jat’s privatisation process, have participated in the tender. He explains that this is because of the bad experience airlines from the two countries have had in similar ventures, giving the example of Turkish’s takeover of B&H Airlines. The new company which will be set up would be freed of Jat’s debt, according to Mrkonjić, while a social benefits program for Jat’s employees would be drafted. This is in stark contrast to the minister’s announcement from last week when he promised job security for the airline’s workforce.
Meanwhile, the acting CEO of Jat Airways, Vladimir Ognjenović, has said that the carrier will need new aircraft next year regardless of the privatisation process outcome. He adds that the airline will hire younger cabin crew next year while negotiations regarding commercial cooperation with AZAL Airlines from Azerbaijan will begin later on in the month. Such an agreement could pave way for AZAL to begin flights to Belgrade.
Do you think a new Serbian national carrier will be created next year? Will Jat become history in 2012? Send a comment with your thoughts.