|Former Jat CEO tipped for Belgrade Airport top job|
The former CEO of Jat Airways, Saša Vlaisavljević, is the frontrunner in becoming Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport’s CEO after its former head, Velimir Radosavljević was arrested earlier this month, accused of signing a damaging deal with low cost airline Wizz Air. The Serbian Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlović, said the government will likely propose for the airport’s board to name Mr. Vlaisavljević as its new CEO in the coming period. Mr. Vlaisavljević is a former member of the Democratic Party which ran the country from 2008 to 2012.
Saša Vlaisavljević managed Jat Airways from October 2007 to March 2009, rising from the position of Jat's Ground Operations Director to CEO over night. He started off at the company in 1995. During his time as CEO, the bulk of the management was replaced with those from the airline’s handling division at Belgrade Airport. Mr. Vlaisavljević heavily reduced the airline’s network of destinations and closed several key representative offices across Europe where ticket sales reportedly decreased significantly afterwards. He is also held accountable for signing a damaging agreement with Montenegro Airlines from which Jat never recovered. Furthermore, the former Jat CEO made several announcements during his reign indicating the carrier will go bankrupt, causing extensive damage to the company’s business. After being declared incompetent to lead the airline, the government awarded him with a job as Belgrade’s City Manager but it lasted for three weeks before he got into a dispute with the city mayor. He later served as one of the many Vice Presidents of Serbia’s Chamber of Commerce and has since been promoted as the Chamber’s director. In late 2012, Mr. Vlaisavljević was also a candidate to lead Belgrade’s Red Star football club. Incidentally, during his reign, Jat Airways signed numerous damaging sponsorship deals with the club, all of which have been terminated since the launch of Air Serbia. During his only full year in office in 2008, Jat recorded a loss of 28 million euros, following a small profit in 2007.
This year marks an important one for Belgrade Airport as it prepares to be put up for concession and is likely to be managed by a company from the United Arab Emirates. The airport has seen record passenger growth so far this year. In late March, Mr. Vlaisavljević said, “Given the number of available gates at the airport and a demanding schedule, with the largest amount of air operations ever recorded, its capacity will be stretched to the limit during the summer season. Immediate investment in the airport’s infrastructure is needed”. He added, “With Etihad’s strategic partnership with Air Serbia, we have a major opportunity that we cannot let slip”. On Monday the Serbian government dismissed Velimir Radosavljević, who is currently facing trial, as CEO of Belgrade Airport. Saša Vlaisavljević was born in Bihać in 1968. He graduated from Belgrade University’s Faculty of Transportation.