Government undecided on successor national carrier
After realising the extensive procedures relating to the creation of a new national carrier, the Serbian government is likely to restructure Jat Airways and keep it operating as the country’s flag carrier. Earlier in the month the government decided it would create a new national airline to be launched in March 2013 and named Jat Serbian Airlines, which would take over Jat’s fleet, slots and staff and would be free of debt. However, due to strict aviation regulations the new carrier would likely need over a year and a half to take off.
Only a few weeks ago the government created a task group to deal with the transition process, however, its original mission has now been changed. Instead of making way for a new carrier the task group has until November 2013 to present its plan for the “stabilisation, recovery and profitability of Jat Airways”. The task group is made up of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transport, State Privatisation Agency, the Chief of Staff of the President of Serbia, the head of the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate, the CEO of Jat Airways, the CEO of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport as well as two senior pilots.
Former Jat Airways CEO, Predrag Vujović, has labelled plans for a successor carrier as “utter nonsense”. “The government has to decide what it wants and set a goal for the company’s management. It can take over Jat’s debts immediately, it doesn’t have to create a new airline to do so. Creating a new airline just proves they have no idea what they want”, Vujović says. Experts warn that a successor carrier would be unable to takeover Jat’s lucrative slots as they would be void the minute the “old Jat” officially ceases operations. Next month the Serbian government is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the financial lease of four Airbus A319s and four ATR72-600s, set for arrival from March next year. In January a formal order for four Airbus A320s, for delivery in 2015, is to be made. Jat Airways has begun formulating its 2013 summer season timetable as if operating with its existing fleet.