Jat Airways soon to join Etihad’s family
Etihad Airways will take over a 49% stake in Jat Airways next Monday, July 22, when a signing ceremony between the Emirati carrier and the Serbian government is expected to take place in Belgrade. “The agreement is expected to be signed on July 22 because everything has already been agreed upon. Our side has accepted Etihad’s offer. Since Jat is in bad shape we didn’t have much space to negotiate”, an official taking part in the takeover process told Serbia’s national daily “Politika”. Following the signing ceremony, Etihad plans to secure ten Airbus A319s for Jat for the upcoming winter season and retire the ageing Boeing 737 fleet immediately, with Bombardiers scheduled for next summer. While the takeover date is not set in stone for next Monday, it will take place by the end of July.
As EX-YU Aviation News learns, Etihad plans to turn Jat (regardless of its subsequent name) into a competitive and strong airline in the region. Only this winter several new routes will be launched to cities in the former Yugoslavia, the Balkan region, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Frequencies are to be boosted to key western European cities as well. Etihad also plans to put emphasis on service quality. The national carrier of the United Arab Emirates has requested utmost discretion with information regarding its future plans for Jat and is expected to reveal them to the public at a press conference following the takeover signing ceremony.
As the takeover date draws near, officials from Etihad Airways have begun frequenting Belgrade. Following a high ranking delegation last week, a new delegation will be arriving in the Serbian capital today. During last week, Etihad CEO, James Hogan, also made a short stop in Belgrade. Furthermore, EX-YU Aviation News learns Etihad is satisfied with the results recorded on its recently launched Abu Dhabi - Belgrade - Abu Dhabi service. The airline is seeing a large amount of early bookings with Jat also recording strong bookings on its own code on the Abu Dhabi service. Furthermore, the Serbian carrier is finalising a codeshare agreement with Etihad’s equity partner, Air Berlin, on flights to the United States.