Solution to Jat’s fleet problems on the horizon
The makeup of Jat Airways’ future fleet will be decided on Thursday, January 31, when the task group in charge of restructuring the Serbian national carrier meets. The Deputy Minister for Transport in charge of aviation, Milutin Popović, says the task group will now meet once every week, or more if needed, until it solves all the problems which have piled up at the national carrier. “There are a lot of unanswered questions and the public will soon be informed of the task group’s proposals”, he says. Originally, it was planned for Jat to lease two ATR72s, two A319s and two A320s this summer season, joining six Boeing 737-300s and two ATR72s.
Mr. Popović denied media reports that Jat will be turned into a low cost airline. “Jat cannot be a low cost airline as Jat is Serbia’s national carrier which has the desire to be dominant on the Serbian market”, he says. He adds Jat will be restructured so it would be of interest to potential buyers in the future, which could also buy Jat Tehnika, the airline’s maintenance company which was separated from the carrier several years ago.
Jat’s current aircraft shortage saga began at the beginning of the year when half of its fleet was grounded, in need of spare parts or in preparation for the return to their original owner. Last Friday, the CEO of AJ Walter Aviation, the world’s leading aircraft component supply company, held talks with the Serbian Prime Minister adding they would be interested in playing part in solving Jat’s problems. Some grounded aircraft are expected to return to the sky in the coming months after the airline’s ten million euro bank loan was approved. Jat has been forced to cut frequencies on several destinations and suspend flights to Brussels until April 1 in order to carry out its operations with its downsized fleet.