Pilots unite against government greedThe independent union of Serbian pilots has lashed out at the government for its disinterest in Jat Airways and reluctance to depoliticise the aviation sector in the country. “We can no longer allow for people to make decisions who do not wish to interfere in their own work “, the union says, taking a swipe at politically appointed CEOs and managers. “We need professionals who will work as a team with the government and would be chosen based on merit”, the union says in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister. The plea is said to be coming days before yet another politically appointed CEO for Jat Airways is named by the government.
Pilots are also angered at the way the state has dealt with Jat Airways and has accused the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate for issuing limitless licenses to foreign airlines at the expense of Jat. “It is difficult to observe one of the most promising markets in Europe, with an annual average growth rate of 13%, being taken over by foreign carriers”. Anger has also been directed at consultancy firms which have been hired by the government several times to study Jat’s business model. It has later been proved that some of the firms, which were paid millions for their services, are directly linked to political figures in the country.
EX-YU aviation news has reported several times on the large scale politicisation of the aviation industry, not only in Serbia but also throughout the EX-YU region. Jat Airways’ current CEO, Vladimir Ognjenović, comes from the Democratic Party. The head of the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate (and former Jat Airways CEO) comes from the Serbian Renewal Movement. Meanwhile, the managerial posts at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport have been held by the United Regions of Serbia party for the past several years. With a new government now in power, many CEOs are simply being replaced by other party minions. The Socialist Party of Serbia has been granted control over Jat for the first time since 2000. Only several weeks into their term, the new government has already went back on their promise of depoliticising state owned companies.