Conflicting claims over AirAsia’s “Jat takeover”There have been contradictory statements over the potential takeover of the Serbian national carrier, Jat Airways, by the low cost Malaysian based AirAsia. Yesterday morning, AirAsia CEO, Tony Fernandes, said claims made that the airline was looking to buy Jat are “not true”. However, only an hour later, Serbia’s Minister for Transport, Milutin Mrkonjić, confirmed the government is in talks with AirAsia to buy Jat. Mrkonjić refused to reveal details, but said he expected positive results from the ongoing negotiations, adding that talks are to be held throughout the week.
Mrkonjić seemed surprised that the potential AirAsia takeover has been unearthed by the media, stating, “Some things should not be revealed, particularly when it comes to serious companies and serious businesses”. However, a senior AirAsia official was singing a different tune. He explained to the Reuters news agency, “There was an invitation by Belgrade, and we went just to explore market opportunities there. However, we have no plans to fly to Belgrade up to 2014. In short, AirAsia is not looking to buy any airline".
Late on Tuesday night the distinguished Serbian daily “Večernje novosti” broke the news that AirAsia was looking to establish an operational base in Belgrade with Jat to carry passengers from European destinations to the Serbian capital where they would transit onwards to Kula Lumpur with AirAsia X, the airline’s long haul subsidiary. AirAsia X recently suspended flights to several European destinations due to high costs. AirAsia itself is in the process of taking over the Indonesian no frills airline Batavia Air.