|Emirati company submits Aviogenex offer|
A Dubai-based company has sent in an offer for the purchase of Serbian charter airline Aviogenex. The offer comes after the government put up 502 state-owned companies for sale a month ago, among which is Aviogenex. Prior to the break-up of Yugoslavia, Aviogenex was the busiest charter airline in the country, handling over half a million passengers per year in the late 1980s. However, the carrier has fallen on hard times with a single and aging Boeing 737-200 jet grounded at Belgrade Airport and a handful of employees. The deadline for the submission of bids has been set for September 15, after which talks with interested parties will begin. The offer is the most serious chance yet for Aviogenex’s revival.
A recent statement issued by Avigenex employees said, “Aviogenex practically does not exist. It is neither here nor there. Our hands are tied. We haven’t been paid in over a year”. Aviogenex last operated flights during the winter on behalf of Westair Benin to which it leased its aircraft, pilots, crew and maintenance staff. Its 27-year old B737-200 returned to Belgrade earlier this year and has been grounded ever since. In previous years, the airline operated on behalf of Jat Airways during the peak summer season, as the Serbian national carrier faced a chronic fleet shortage.
In early 2013, prior to Jat Airways’ sale to Etihad Airways and subsequent relaunch as Air Serbia, the Serbian government revealed plans for a possible joint venture between the two airlines where Aviogenex would receive Jat’s aging Boeings and set up low cost flights. In a statement, the Ministry of Transport said at the time that the low cost airline, which would operate as a subsidy of Jat, would have the task to compete against other no frill airlines and connect Serbia’s alternative airports such as Niš. The low cost airline, operated on behalf of Aviogenex, was to start operations once Jat’s fleet renewal process was complete. Incidentally, Air Serbia is set to complete its fleet renewal process this month with the arrival of its tenth Airbus aircraft. The fate of the remaining four Boeing 737-300s, currently utilised by Air Serbia is unknown. Aviogenex was set up in 1968. In 1990, its busiest year, it handled 633.932 passengers with a fleet of ten aircraft. The airline currently employs seven pilots, seventeen crew members, twelve ground engineers and four flight dispatchers.