85 years in the airJat Airways is today marking its 85th birthday as the airline is the successor to Aeroput and JAT Yugoslav Airlines. The Serbian national carrier is today the eighth oldest airline in the world still in operation behind only KLM, Qantas, Aeroflot, Czech Airlines, Finnair, Delta and Tajik Air. However, it’s been a tough ride and the carrier still faces tremendous challenges. Following World War Two Jat struggled to get aircraft in the air and was banished by both the East and West. However, its major rise would begin in the 1960s as foundations were laid for Jat’s “golden years” which took place during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1987, Jat carried the most passengers in its history - 4.531.000 (2.255.000 on domestic flights). The number has never been surpassed.
Since 1927, Jat has had 26 CEOs with the first one being Tadija Sondermajer. However, it will be Vidomir Krunić, who led the company from 1963 to 1975 that will be remembered for building Jat into a brand and revolutionising the airline at the time. The first scheduled service by Aeroput was operated on February 15, 1928 between Belgrade and Zagreb. 84 years later there are no flights between the two cities. The first international service was launched in 1929 from Belgrade to Graz and Vienna via Zagreb.
Today, Jat will be marking its anniversary by rolling out its new frequent flyer programme - Extra Flight Club. Gifts will also be issued to passengers onboard. Jat has survived World War Two, the 1970s oil shock, the loss of more than 40% of its market, international sanction and the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. Today, it is still has to battle with political interference, corruption and managerial incompetence. What lays ahead remains to be seen as Jat Airways enters its 85th year.