Competition watchdog approves Etihad takeover
Air Serbia was last night granted regulatory approval after the Serbian Competition Protection Commission ruled the Etihad takeover of Jat Airways would not restrict or distort competition in the Serbian aviation industry. “The Commission based its decision on through analysis of the legislation signed by all parties taking part in the takeover agreement as well as other documents and future business plans”, a statement from the regulatory watchdog reads. The move now paves way for the launch of ticket sales for the 2013/14 winter season which were originally to begin this week. The approval will also see a change in management. With the end to all bureaucratic procedures, Etihad is now not only officially a 49% stakeholder in Jat Airways but also Jat Catering and the airline’s handling division SU-PORT.
Following yesterday's decision, the Serbian government will next week advise the Jat Airways Joint Stock Assembly to name Dane Kondić as the airline’s new CEO. Siniša Mali, the Finance Advisor to the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, who has played an instrumental role in the Etihad takeover of Jat Airways, noted the first Airbus A319, which is to wear the Air Serbia branding, is scheduled to enter service on October 27, with the jet to arrive in Belgrade a week earlier. He added that all ten A319s are set to enter service by March 2014, which corresponds to the exclusive information published last Sunday by EX-YU Aviation News.
Air Serbia will not be treated as a new company, instead it will be the legal successor to Jat Airways and will continue using its international agreements, the “JU” IATA airline designator as well as time slots, though it has opted to change them at most airports from next winter. However, Air Serbia will be issued a new air operator’s certificate (AOC). Air Serbia is preparing for its October launch with new cabin crew to be hired over the weekend. Jat Airways pilots have now begun their training for the A319 aircraft at centres in Berlin and Dusseldorf. Furthermore, the airline is hiring new pilots for the ATR turboprops as well as the A319s.