Minority Jat share package for Etihad
The Serbian government will begin talks with the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways, at the end of March regarding the takeover of Jat Airways. The move comes after the UAE announced multi million euro investments in Serbia including the construction of a large cargo centre at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. The government has offered Etihad a minority stake in the Serbian airline but is willing for the Emirati carrier to name its own management for Jat (similar to the arrangement B&H Airlines had with Turkish Airlines). As EX-YU Aviation News learns, last week Etihad requested documentation from Jat, asking it to forward all of its international agreements and contracts.
The Serbian Minister for the Economy, Mladjan DInkić, as well as the Deputy Minister in charge of aviation, Milutin Popović, will travel to Abu Dhabi in late March to discuss the potential takeover of Jat and the sale of Jat Tehnika to the Mubadala Investment Company. Etihad is interested in incorporating Jat into its network. It would also take part of Jat’s pilots and base them in Abu Dhabi, according to government sources. Etihad Airways already has minority shares in Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus and Virgin Australia. Last year, EX-YU Aviation News reported on the potential interest Etihad Airways has in the EX-YU region.
Relations between the United Arab Emirates and Serbia have been going from strength to strength over the past few months, with a dozen visits from Serbian and Emirati officials to each country in the past few weeks. Only last week, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, holidayed on the mountain resort of Kopaonik in Southern Serbia. Abu Dhabi is believed to be planning investments in Serbia in the field of agriculture, infrastructure and air transportation.
Meanwhile, a final decision on Jat’s future fleet is expected to be announced today. It is believed the task group in charge of restructuring the Serbian carrier is leaning towards Boeing but has been under great pressure from the Serbian government to choose Airbus instead, due to the country’s aspirations to join the European Union.
Jat Airways will lease four Airbus aircraft this summer, to enter service from June 1. Jat Airways’ pilots will be trained for 24 days in Hamburg and London. The training will be paid for by the leasing house chosen to provide the aircraft. The jets (two A319s and two A320s) will be between two to eight years old.