“Jat Airways is not a candidate for bankruptcy”
Jat Airways has angrily reacted at recent announcements made by Serbia’s Minister for Finance and Economy, Mladjan Dinkić, regarding the carrier’s future. On Tuesday the minister said, amongst other things, that it would be best to let “the old Jat” go bankrupt and form a “new Jat” at the start of 2013. The statement has had a domino effect with panicked passengers inquiring the airline whether their purchased tickets will go to waste and has fuelled unease amongst Jat’s business partners. “The minister’s statements are clumsy and out of place and are causing extensive harm to the business of Serbia’s national carrier”, the union of Jat Airways employees said in a statement. The press release continues, “Passengers are contacting our employees, they are nervous and starting to cancel their bookings while our business partners are exercising extreme caution in their contacts with us, all of which could have a negative impact on our business”.
During Mr. Dinkić's recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, it was proposed for Etihad Airways to take a stake in the newly formed Serbian national carrier. Furthermore, the government plans to offer financial guarantees to finalise the controversial 1998 order for eight Airbus aircraft. This week, the government refused to issue Jat a 35 million euro cash injection. Mr. Dinkić, whose party has been continually running Serbia’s finances since December 2000, has always been hostile towards the national carrier but has never had effective control over the airline.
“On what basis do the ministers think that a company which brings in thousands of euros worth of revenue daily can go bankrupt? Jat Airways is not a candidate for bankruptcy”, the scathing press release reads. “Jat Airways is the symbol of statehood, success, tradition and pride for the past 85 years. The government’s approach at solving Jat’s problems is a ruthless game aimed at 1.200 of our employees. Counting all the businesses which have been separated from the company, but whose existence depends on Jat , the total number of employees rises to 3.000. Our workers are under psychological stress and are worried for their livelihoods”, the union concludes.
The ministry responded to the union early on Thursday, stating that Jat will not go bankrupt, highlighting that the carrier has no debt towards its international partners. However, the ministry notes that Jat will go through a phase of restructuring and that some employees will be asked to leave the company voluntarily in return for cash settlements. The ministry concludes that the creation of the new company will not affect passengers in any way and that Jat will maintain continuity in its operations.