Etihad poised to become Jat’s strategic partner
Jat Airways and Etihad Airways have agreed to a sign memorandum of understanding in Belgrade in April, the first step in forming a strategic partnership agreement between the two airlines. The deal will see the Serbian carrier launch flights to Abu Dhabi and open the way for Etihad to be granted a 49% stake in the airline. Following talks in Abu Dhabi yesterday, the two sides agreed for the strategic partnership to be initiated from mid April. “We want Jat to become a profitable company and the pride of Serbia. I am certain that Etihad is the ideal partner for our national carrier”, the country’s Minister for Finance and Economy, Mladjan Dinkić, said following the talks. He added that Etihad’s management will begin a thorough analysis of Jat’s business model next week.
The strategic partnership would see Etihad modernise Jat’s fleet in return for a 49% stake in the carrier. Furthermore, Etihad has expressed its willingness to help Jat with the financial lease of four Airbus jets which are to enter the airline’s fleet this June. Initial plans would see Jat launch daily flights to Abu Dhabi once the Airbus aircraft arrive. In addition, the airline would cooperate with Air Berlin on services to Chicago and a further three destinations in the United States. Etihad owns a 29% stake in Air Berlin. The German airline and Jat already have a Special Prorate Agreement.
Jat Airways operated flights to Abu Dhabi just a few years ago where, in cooperation with Etihad, passengers continued onwards to Australia. Ironically, the very same Jat CEO who made the decision to suspend services to the United Arab Emirates without any financial basis for the decision, Vladimir Ognjenović, was present at yesterday’s talks. Mr. Ognjenović is expected to be sacked this evening when the Serbian government names his successor. Etihad Airways is the Gulf’s third largest carrier behind Emirates and Qatar Airways. Besides Air Berlin, it has ownership stakes in Air Seychelles (which under its guidance has returned to profitability), as well as Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus.
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