Terms of Etihad’s takeover agreement of Jat to be published
Serbia is likely to reveal its secretive deal with Etihad Airways for its 49% stake in Air Serbia next month. One of the chief negotiators of the takeover, Siniša Mali, says the deal will be made public after the transition process is completed on February 20 when the airline’s new joint stock assembly is expected to hold its first session. The government has been under mounting pressure to publish the deal from both opposition parties and the media. The deal between the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates and the Serbian government has been classified as a state secret. Mr. Mali says the two sides will discuss lifting the ban to publish the classified document. “There is nothing to hide here. It is an excellent agreement for both Jat and the government”, Mr. Mali says.
Earlier this week Serbia’s former Economy Minister, Saša Radulović, who resigned from office on Saturday, said the takeover agreement with Etihad is damaging to Serbia, adding that the government continually blocked the restructuring of Jat Airways so it could hand the airline over to Etihad. He also criticised the addition of other companies in the deal such as Jat Catering, which Etihad is now the owner of as well. Mr. Mali has refuted those claims stating, “Planes were out of order, they were grounded, the company was falling apart and salaries were late so I don’t think this is a bad project, it will make Air Serbia a regional leader”. He recalled that Air Serbia recently hired new pilots, cabin crew, launched new routes and ordered ten new aircraft.
Etihad Airways officially took over its 49% stake in Air Serbia on January 1. Few of the terms and conditions of the takeover have been made public, however, it has been revealed that Etihad has invested forty million dollars into Air Serbia from August until December last year. An additional 200 million dollars will be invested from this January onwards. Yesterday, Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister and most powerful politician, Aleksandar Vučić said, “Thanks to Etihad, Air Serbia has recorded passenger growth of 30%. The airline’s fleet is in the process of renewal and it is considering purchasing carriers in the region”.