New name, new jets and new bases for Jat
Jat Serbian Airlines, the proposed name for the successor of Jat Airways, will be created as a subsidiary of the Serbian national carrier in mid December and will launch operations on March 31, 2013. The airline will take over Jat’s slots, fleet, international agreements as well as some 600 employees. Following Tuesday’s meeting between the Serbian Ministry of Finance and Airbus, it has been agreed for Jat to financially lease eight new aircraft from the leasing company ILFC. Four Airbus A319s will join the existing Boeing fleet in March. By the fall of 2013 a further four ATR72-600s will also join the fleet. ILFC will fund the A319 training for two groups of cabin crew while Airbus will finance training for another four sets of cabin crew. Jat will also place an order for four brand new Airbus A320s, set for delivery from 2015. Under the agreement, the airline will take out a loan from a French and German bank to finance the aircraft and, as a result, settle its 1998 Airbus order dispute. A Memorandum of Understanding between Airbus and the Serbian government will be signed in December, while the official order for the new aircraft will be made in February 2013.
Yesterday, the Serbian government formed a task group to prepare for the creation of the new national carrier. The transition process should be smooth since Jat has no debt towards its international partners. The government doesn’t plan to privatise Jat Serbian Airlines until at least 2015. It is expected the new carrier will be operating with a positive zero by the end of 2014 and will be in profit by the end of 2015. The government will then sell a 49% stake in the carrier, if it is able to find a suitable partner.
It has been proposed for the new national carrier to keep “Jat” as a part of its name since the brand has been in existence since April 1, 1947. As the years pass the carrier will slowly begin to retire its aging Boeing 737-300s. However, Jat will also look into launching flights from Skopje where it would open up a new base with two Boeing 737-300s, as well as a base in Sarajevo. The Serbian government will meet with Airbus again next Wednesday.