No political backing for single EX-YU airline
Last year’s initiative to merge the national carrier’s of the former Yugoslavia was blocked by political forces in the region. At a recent Workshop on Southeast European Air Transport Issues in Belgrade, officials from the aviation sector in the former Yugoslavia spoke of the ongoing problems in the industry in the region and touched upon last year’s initiative to create a unified airline which would serve the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Ana Šimecki, from the Southeast Europe Transport Observatory, said that airlines from the former Yugoslavia were determined to create a unified product. However, she noted the plan fell through due to strong opposition from the governments of the former Yugoslavia. Ms. Šimecki said that conditions have since changed due to Etihad’s takeover of Jat and the expected privatisation of Croatia Airlines, making such a project today impossible.
On the other hand, Mirko Tatalović, the Deputy Vice President for Marketing and Network at Croatia Airlines said the Croatian carrier was willing to merge its operations with Adria Airways but also added that politicians were unwilling to carry through with the plan. Mr. Tatalović noted that a merger between Croatia Airlines and Adria would have been natural since both airlines have similar fleets, are members of Star Alliance and are today members of the European Union. He added the second phase of the airline’s development would have included a merger with Montenegro Airlines noting that Croatia Airlines and Montenegro Airlines have a similar passenger structure due to the existing tourism industry in both countries.
The potential merger of the airlines from the former Yugoslavia had the backing from Brussels. In March 2012, the Secretary General of the Association of European Airlines, Ulrich Schulte Strathaus, said that in order for the national carriers of the former Yugoslavia to survive they would need to unite into a single airline. “The once single Yugoslav market is now fragmented and a regional solution is necessary. The region needs an airline that would cover local needs and connect with global hubs”, Mr Strathaus said at the time. The CEOs of EX-YU national carriers held joint talks several times afterwards with the aim to synch operations but no concrete progress was made. All participants speaking on the issue at the Workshop agreed that without the strong political backing and the hostility towards a potential merger from EX-YU politicians, the project was always destined to fail.
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