Serbia’s first low cost airline in 2015?
Jat Airways and charter airline Aviogenex are considering creating a joint low cost airline which would operate under the Aviogenex brand with support of the Serbian government. The Deputy Minister for Transport in charge of aviation, Milutin Popović, says the new airline could operate with Jat’s older aircraft, which will no longer be used by the Serbian carrier once new jets arrive. “We are developing this idea and this is our first proposal”, Mr. Popović said on Tuesday. He added the airline would be created once Jat’s entire fleet renewal process is complete, which will be in two years time.
According to the Ministry of Transport, the low cost airline, which would operate as a subsidy of Jat, would have the task to compete against other no frill airlines but also connect Serbia’s alternative airports such as Niš. Furthermore, it is being considered to base the airline at Belgrade’s second airport in the suburb of Batajnica, which has been designated as a future “low cost only” airport.
Aviogenex, created in 1968, was once Yugoslavia’s biggest charter airline. Today, it continues to operate charters for Serbian tour operators. Its fleet features a single Boeing 737-200 advanced jet. Despite being the earlier version of the B737, it was one of the last ever produced and is younger than most of Jat’s B737-300s. The aircraft is currently undergoing a D check in France. Aviogenex itself has a handful of employees including seven pilots and seventeen cabin crew members.
It is not the first time that Jat has considered setting up a low cost airline. In late 2003, all was set for the creation of Inter Air Link, a low cost regional airline which would have utilised the carrier’s ATR72 fleet. However, it was this idea which led to the downfall of then CEO, Predrag Vujović, with pilots unhappy at the prospect of being outsourced to a small new airline rather than remaining a part of Jat. Ultimately, the airline never took to the sky following Mr. Vujović’s dismissal.