JAT’s sixteen year Airbus saga comes to an end
After sixteen years, the European plane manufacturer Airbus has approved the cancellation of JAT Yugoslav Airlines’ order for eight Airbus A319 aircraft. The cancellation was finally agreed upon following joint talks between Airbus and JAT’s successor Air Serbia, as well as its part owner Etihad Airways late last month, putting an end to the saga. “Air Serbia cancelled eight A319s originally ordered by JAT in August 1998. None were delivered. However, this order has already been compensated with Etihad Airways' order for ten A320neos in November 2013. Those aircraft are due to be operated by Air Serbia”, an Airbus report, outlining its February order books, states.
JAT Yugoslav Airlines ordered eight A319s in the summer of 1998, in a deal worth 580 million American dollars. The politically motivated order did not suit the airline’s needs at the time. Although JAT deposited over 23.5 million dollars, none of the aircraft were ever delivered. Their arrival was initially delayed by troubles in the region and the imposition of United Nations sanctions onto Yugoslavia, barring the world’s second largest plane manufacturer from delivering the aircraft. Following changes in the country’s political establishment in October 2000, the company was in no state to finance the costly order. Yugoslav Airlines’ initial successor, Jat Airways, as well as the Serbian government, made attempts to revise the agreement ever since without much success with Airbus unwilling to allow Jat to defer the order onto another airline. In 2012 Airbus threatened to sue the Serbian government over the 1998 deal.
|JAT pilots pose in front of this test A319 in Belgrade in August 1998 when the order to purchase eight jets of its type was made|
Following Etihad’s acquisition of Jat Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates moved swiftly to resolve the issue. The deposit paid by JAT for the aircraft has been credited toward the pre-delivery payment for ten Airbus A320neos ordered by Etihad late last year which are to be operated by the Serbian national carrier. The new A320neos will be delivered between 2018 and 2020, replacing Air Serbia’s fleet of leased Airbuses currently in operation.