Air Serbia’s future investments “may involve regional acquisitions”
The CEO of Air Serbia, Dane Kondić, has announced the airline is considering the possibility to purchase an airline in the region as part of its future expansion plans but says the Serbian carrier must first turn a profit before making such a big strategic move. Mr. Kondić believes his airline will turn a profit within a year’s time. “I think any business is always going to look at opportunities for growth. At the moment we have our own goals, ambitions and plans, which is to bring into service ten of these new aircraft, build a route structure, get some sustainability and then we can look at other sorts of investment that may involve acquisitions around the region”, Mr. Kondić said.
Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, echoed the words of Air Serbia’s CEO, “There is an idea to acquire some airlines in the region after we bring in new planes. All airlines in the region have many problems. They are facing great challenges and will face them in the future”. Asked whether Etihad Airways will be making more acquisitions itself, CEO James Hogan said, “I think we have our plate full at the moment. We are delighted to welcome Air Serbia to our equity alliance and look forward to working constructively with them and their stakeholders to build a sustainable, competitive, and profitable airline”. In addition to being a minority shareholder in Air Serbia, Etihad also has shares in Air Berlin, Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus and Air Seychelles and is finalising the purchase of India’s Jet Airways.
Currently Adria Airways, B&H Airlines and Croatia Airlines are all in search of strategic partners. Croatia Airlines has begun its privatisation process, with the government hoping to finalise it within the next nine months. After a failed attempt to privatise the airline last year, the Slovenian government has said it will make a second attempt and has listed Adria as a priority for sale, though no firm timeframe has been given. B&H Airlines is also in search of a partner. According to the Bosnian government, investors from the United Arab Emirates have shown interest.