Archive files

This is the sixth in a series of archival news items which are being published each Saturday. The news items date back from the late 1970s until 1989. This collection of news articles have been published in various newspapers and official historic publications.

The following article talks about the arrival of JAT’s first Boeing B737-300, most of which after 20 years are still operating for Jat Airways. Yugoslav Airlines was the launch customer of the B737-300 in Europe, with the aircraft being the most modern and fuel efficient in the sky. It also carried the unique silver body livery which JAT would exclusively use on this aircraft type.
JAT launches B737-300s in Europe

Third generation jet aircraft appeared on the world market in the mid 1980s. They featured new technological advancements such as lower fuel consumption rates (which was one of JAT’s major expenditures) and noise reduction, which had become rigorously observed in the expanding civil aviation industry. The Boeing B737-300 was the shining example of all of these technological achievements. Thus, JAT opted for this latest generation medium haul airliner in 1984. In addition to the 20% lower fuel consumption, the advantage of this aircraft compared to other similar planes was its cheap and easy maintenance. The aircraft type also had fully computerised navigation devices and was less noisy and more comfortable for passengers.

The arrangement made by JAT and Boeing for the purchase of this aircraft was interesting. Under the purchasing contract at least 50% of the aircraft’s price was to have been covered by the export of Yugoslav goods, including some parts manufactured in Yugoslavia for Boeing. The choice of the B737-300 marked the beginning of the renewal of JAT’s medium range fleet. After nearly 6 decades since the founding of Yugoslav civil aviation, JAT had at its disposal, in 1985, the most modern fleet available on the world market. In the years that followed the B737-300 became JAT’s signature aircraft on Euro-Mediterranean services, as it took over from the DC9s which were increasingly deployed on domestic and charter services.

JAT was the first European carrier to opt for the B737-300 and ordered a total of 9 aircraft. The first two, registered YU-AND and YU-ANF, arrived on August 8 and August 16, 1985 respectively. The airline also received a further 2 B737s in 1985 (YU-ANH and YU-ANI arriving on December 12 and 16). The next group of three, YU-ANJ, YU-ANK and YU-ANL, arrived in November and December 1986. YU-ANW and YU=ANL were delivered in 1988 on March 21 and 25 respectively.

No one at the time was aware that these aircraft would become the main fleet of a company named Jat Airways which would come into existence 18 years after the first JAT Boeing arrived. The B737-300 YU-ANJ was impounded in Istanbul in 1992 and would be returned 8 years later to the airline, on May 9, 2000. In 1985, JAT was the 10th largest airline in Europe and the 31st largest airline in the world.
Next week: The golden years


  1. Anonymous19:41

    10th largest in Europe is a pretty nice achievement. I am assuming the top 10 were something like this:

    1 British Airways
    2 Air France
    3 Lufthansa
    4 Alitalia
    5 Aeroflot
    6 KLM
    7 Scandinavian
    8 Swissair
    9 Sabena
    10 JAT

  2. Anonymous03:08

    If that were the 'top 10' (anc clearly that was ranked by passenger numbers, or ASKs?), then look where those 10 are now:

    1) BA - Nowhere near #1 anymore, but has reinvented itself in the face of the toughest low cost competition on shorthaul, and a hugely innovative long haul competitor in Virgin Atlantic

    2) Air France - Masterminded the acquisition of KLM, a true master stroke in the face of many doubters (myself included).

    3) Lufthansa - Growing stronger through erecting fortresses in Frankfurt, Munich and now in Zurich after acquiring Swiss for peanuts

    4) Alitalia - DISGRACE. How they're still on this earth is a travesty. Horrible company from top to bottom. Bankrupt in any measure imaginable since about 2000.

    5) Aeroflot - Re-invented itself along with the rest of Russia post USSR. Will be interesting to see where they are in 10 years time.

    6) KLM - See Air France. Were almost bust by the time of the takeover, despite having the best transfer/hub airport in Europe (AMS)

    7) SAS - On life support, may be gone by this time next year.

    8) Swiss(air) - See Lufthansa

    9) Sabena - Thankfully gone, apart from the SN Brussels reincarnation now in Lufthansa's hands

    10) Jat - Enough been said about them, but have suffered the biggest fall from grace out of everyone on this list. Were it not for twists of history , government support and being based in a country with a 3rd world approach to market liberalisation, would have disappeared by 1995 (if not earlier)

  3. Anonymous17:38

    Interesting observation, especially the one about Alitalia :) I have never had a chance to fly them but after reading your comment, I guess I better don't even try it.

    The top 10 list I put in my first post was more an assumption as I don't have facts and figures from the 80s. I am wondering if Iberia or Finnair should have been there instead of Swissair and Sabena?


  4. Anonymous17:52

    Looking at this JAT's B737-300 picture, I have to say that they had one of the best liveries at that time. It looks a bit as what American Airlines has now.


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