Etihad solution for the “new Jat”
The creation of a successor national carrier to Jat Airways is once again on the cards after Serbia’s Minister for Finance and Economy, Mladjan Dinkić, returned from an official state visit to the United Arab Emirates. Dinkić said the government will go ahead and create a new airline which would be free of debt. The carrier’s fleet would be comprised mainly of Airbus jets. The government would offer financial guarantees to finalise the controversial 1998 order for the Airbus aircraft. "We have plans to lease twelve new aircraft from Airbus and the new company would receive 140 million dollars worth of guarantees for that purpose", Dinkić told local media.
During Dinkić's visit to the UAE, it was proposed for Etihad Airways to take a stake in the newly formed Serbian national carrier. "This is still an idea, but creating the “new Jat” and a fleet renewal is a definite government decision”, Dinkić adds. No time frame was given for the creation of the successor airline. Earlier in the month, Etihad CEO, James Hogan said, “We see further equity investments only if it's the right opportunity, right partner, right market and right price”. Furthermore, the UAE government is interested in investing into a cargo centre at Belgrade Airport after announcing millions of euros worth of investments into the Serbian agriculture industry.
The idea to form a successor to Jat has been floating around for the past few years. However, the Serbian government has had many strategy back flips when it comes to Jat’s future. Only last month, the country’s Minister for Transport announced that the low cost AirAsia was looking into buying a stake in Jat. Similarly, the Serbian carrier was to be taken over by Turkish Airlines, Baltic Aviation System and even a group of local business moguls. Meanwhile, the company has managed to see a sharp increase in passenger numbers this year despite increased competition, however, it is once again set to end 2012 with multi million euro losses. A new CEO for the airline is set to be named later this week, according to government sources.