Strategic partnership details revealed
During the week a delegation from Etihad Airways will begin analysing Jat Airways’ business model before signing a memorandum of understanding in Belgrade in two weeks time, the first step in forming a strategic partnership agreement between the two airlines. The agreement is vital for the Serbian carrier as the government has now tied up the airline’s fleet renewal with the strategic partnership with Etihad. If the deal falls through, the airline could face yet another summer without new aircraft, which would have a serious impact on its summer operations.
According to the proposed strategic partnership agreement, Etihad Airways would help Jat lease four Airbus aircraft in June, after which the Serbian carrier would launch daily flights to Abu Dhabi. In cooperation with Air Berlin, flights would be launched to Chicago, via the German capital. Once Serbia is granted a category one rating by the Federal Aviation Administration, expected later this year, with Etihad’s help Jat would launch flights to Chicago and later New York. Finally, according to the strategic partnership agreement, Jat would operate a fleet of 21 aircraft. In return for the investments, Etihad would be granted a 49% stake in the Serbian airline.
If all goes to plan the strategic partnership agreement is expected to be signed in May. Etihad has spent the past few years forming what it describes as an “equity alliance”, which has seen the airline build up stakes in carriers including Air Berlin, Air Seychelles and Virgin Australia. The government owned Etihad in January this year reported that full year net profits for 2012 increased 200% to US$42 million, as it carried more passengers and pushed ahead with strategic alliances with other international carriers. The flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates said revenue increased 17% to US$4.8 billion, while passenger numbers rose 23% to 10.3 million.