Jat’s CEO nightmare

The loosing ways of Jat’s CEOs

Jat Airways has in the past ten years suffered from significant political interference and bad management which has seen it change six CEOs since 2001, all of which have been members of the ruling political parties. Recently, EX-YU aviation news has been inundated with e-mails from Jat’s employees writing about the astounding practices of their current management. The same case was observed last year, before the then CEO was sacked by the government due to mounting public pressure. EX-YU aviation takes a look back at CEOs past and present and asks whether this sort of unprofessionalism has bought the airline to its knees.

Vladimir Ognjenović, in office 2010 - present

As the nephew of one of the creator’s of Serbia’s largest governing party, Vladimir Ognjenović seemed like a natural choice for CEO of one of Serbia’s largest national companies. During his reign, Ognjenović has managed to increase the company’s losses and has recently ordered the suspension of several key routes. Among them are Stuttgart, Tel Aviv and Dubai, the latter which has bought the airline thousands of passengers and income thanks to a lucrative deal with Emirates. However, even before low cost airline Flydubai announced its service launch to the Serbian capital, Ognjenović ordered its cancellation for the upcoming winter season. In the end, he backed away from suspending flights to Tel Aviv and Stuttgart but is firm on discontinuing services to Dubai. It should be noted that Ognjenović was the vice CEO during the reign of Srdjan Radovanović (read below) and Commercial Director during Saša Vlaisavljević, both of which were declared incompetent by the government. Vladimir Ognjenović went as far as issuing a public letter of support for Srdjan Radovanović who he replaced.

Srdjan Radovanović, in office 2009 - 2010

Going down as one of Jat’s worst CEOs, being a member of Serbia’s largest governing party, Radovanović employed for his Financial Director an individual without a university degree and employed many others in marketing instead of cutting down on employee numbers. Having never worked at Jat (or any other airline), Radovanović, a lawyer by profession, lacked the basics of running a carrier, choosing instead to focus on free taxi services and travel insurance for passengers. Radovanović also planned for Jat tickets to be sold at post offices across the country. During his reign Jat’s technical and catering divisions went on strike, the former paralysing the airline for a week and the latter saw passengers receive only water on flights for three months. He also transferred powers from the Executive Board to the CEO allowing him, and those that preceded him, to determine route suspensions and launches and other operational decisions without consulting other relevant departments. Radovanović is now the advisor to Vladimir Ognjenović.

Saša Vlaisavljević, in office 2007 - 2009

Thanks to political connections, Vlaisavljević managed to rise from the position of Jat’s ground handler to CEO over night. During his time, the bulk of the management was replaced with those from the airline’s handling division at Belgrade Airport. Vlaisavljević heavily reduced the airline’s network of destinations, closed several key representative offices around Europe (where ticket sales rapidly decreased afterwards). He is also ‘credited’ with signing a damaging agreement with Montenegro Airlines from which Jat is still recovering. Vlaisavljević also made several announcements during his reign that Jat will go bankrupt which caused extensive damage to the company’s business and suggested the sale of lucrative slots at Heathrow Airport. 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 now serves as one of the many Vice Presidents of Serbia’s Chamber of Commerce.

Nebojša Starčević, in office 2005 - 2007

Coming from a small party within the governing coalition, Starčević spoke out against competition and the granting of licenses to other airlines to operate to Serbia. A few years later when he was promoted as head of Serbia and Montenegro’s Civil Aviation Directorate he argued that Jat had no future and granted rights to a number of airlines to operate flights to the Serbian capital. Starčević had no experience in running an airline, working beforehand at a “Centrotekstil” shop in Moscow. He famously told the media that he never flies Jat because he wants to leave free seats for potential passengers. During his reign more than half of Jat’s fleet was grounded.

Aleksandar Miltuinović, in office 2004 - 2005

Milutinović’s short reign as CEO will be remembered as the closest Jat got to declaring bankruptcy. During the year, Jat technicians went on strike for over a month. The walkout was followed by cabin crew and pilots. The airline was forced to lease foreign aircraft and technicians from Tunisia. After his handling of the strikes, Milutinović was sacked as CEO but was soon rewarded by being posted as the representative of the airline in Athens.

Predrag Vujović, in office 2001 - 2004

Vujović’s reign was marred by mass layoffs within the airline which at the time counted over 2.000 employees. During his time the airline rebranded to Jat Airways and resumed many services. His downfall came after he got into a dispute with the airline’s pilot union. He later unsuccessfully tried to launch the low cost airline Centavia. Vujović now works privately but was a few years ago posted as advisor to the Minister of Infrastructure in the Serbian government.

A worrying trend is that all of Jat’s recent CEOs were later promoted to other positions despite all being sacked due to mismanagement. EX-YU aviation news has over the past two years reported on mismanagement in other national airlines in the former Yugoslavia as the trend is not unique to Jat.


  1. Stefan09:10

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  2. they would be hard worker for there job.
    Because CEO is very honest for his job.

  3. JATBEGMEL10:07

    sad to read but soo true. i wonder what idiot will be next in line? instead of reading about new aircraft, new frequencies and new routes we just read about these stupid 'seljaci' time and time again. this article is perfect in showing all this.

  4. Anonymous10:17

    JAT must have been amazing in the eighties to be able to survive being grounded in the nineties and suffering these idiots in the past decade... Tnx ex-yu-aviation for this detailed reminder. And let's hope that when this tender saga finally finishes, some one with an ounce of brain will hire a professional as a CEO (and they might as well start their search on this blog...)

  5. Anonymous11:00

    How sad, but totally true...
    Governments from 2000 onwards totally finished off Jat, so incompetent, it is laughable.
    Get a professional CEO from airline industry for God's sake and give him one year for a start. Surely results would start coming up for Jat quickly.

  6. Anonymous12:01

    Of course they were bad managers cause they were not educated for the job they had.. Its stupied and wierd in Serbia. People are doing jobs without proper qualifications.

  7. This is exactly the most horrible thing about Serbia.

    If you could manage to some how snap your fingers and magically resolve all open political issues, if tomorrow, by some miracle everyone was happy about Kosovo, ever outstanding issue relating to ethnic strife suddenly evaporated, you'd still have a country of 7 million people without a clue how to function properly and succeed in the world.

  8. Anonymous12:55

    Please help Doot!!!

  9. Anonymous14:18

    Fantastic post Ex-Yu! Keep up the good work!

  10. Anonymous14:48

    Eh Ziko Ziko , gde si sada kada si nam svima najpotrebniji.Jedan je bio Zika!.<3 JAT <3

  11. FlyingJack15:48

    Btw did anyone notice no more code shared flights between JU and LH

  12. Anonymous16:11


    you mean like

    2 JU 350 BEG 2 FRA 1 1200 1400 E0/733 2:00
    4JU:LH9521 BEG 2 FRA 1 1200 1400 E0/733 2:00

    It's still there... :-)

    BEG-MUC is the same.

  13. FlyingJack16:13

    Neither Amadeus nor BEG apt timetable are showing code shared flights between JU and LH

  14. Anonymous16:34

    At least Serbia is a country where
    for their braindead and mentally handicapped people is cared for! No discrimination at all...
    All these "CEOs" can not count till three and dont recognize themselves in the mirror, but that makes them perfectly fit for high ranks in
    the "democratic" government.

  15. Who was the CEO in the 80's? Can Jat get that person back?

  16. Anonymous16:57

    Hahahah the CEO of the 80's is by St. Petar!!Don't you remember that in SFRJ you must have been about 60years old to become a director:-)
    The article is very depressing, but however route and frequency cuttings are not uncommon practice by other airlines also..Aviation is no more like in the 80's, there is much more competition, fuel efficient aircraft did not manage to catch-up with ever rising oil prices, regulations and security frameworks are tougher and require more spendings.So the CEO's fault is not put in doubt, but other global factors also contributed to the situation for sure.And last but not least, few years ago serbian people could hardly get visas and tourists were lacking because of instability and bad image of the country!Now these regional factors are eliminated and the situation picks up in terms of travelling and tourists.
    So is it true that Dubai will be no more served by JAT?!
    Ex-yu why don't you publish the winter timetables?You did so in the past!

  17. Anonymous18:38

    Code-share agreement between JAT and LH has been terminated recently. JAT eventually decided to resume flights to STR but only for Christmas black-out period.

  18. Anonymous22:00

    The picture gallery today looks like "FBIs Most Wanted Criminals" !
    That guy down in the right corner is probably saying :
    "Hey,Aunt !
    If you dont appoint me to CEO of Jat
    ...I will shoot in your knees like that...!"

  19. Anonymous22:09

    Such an article and then in the top-right conrner the photo "Handover of JAT’s first DC10". What a difference 30 years make...

  20. Anonymous22:26

    What means that Lufthansa does not codeshare with JAT anymore ?

    Is this positive or negative...can please someone inform us ?

  21. Anonymous22:38

    Lufthansa really decreased their ticket prices from Belgrade : for Germany, Europe, elsewhere. By the way, Belgrade airport will record an amazing growth in October, at least 20% more passengers compared to October 2010.

  22. VisitBengaluru!22:59

    What is future strategy for Belgrade by Lufthansa ?
    Connections to FRA and MUC are very good...but it seems they are stagnating on high niveau !

    Expansion is possible with its daughter Germanwings for flights to other cities in Germany which are underserved .
    If LH does not look for new routes they will loose market share step by step the next years !

    The concurrence does not sleep !

  23. JATBEGMEL01:18

    It will be interesting how the winter timetable will look considering the DXB flights will end, and as to how many aircraft will be grounded, will frequencies increase and will a new destination open. I wonder if the current mental patient will stay on as acting CEO until the elections or someone new and partially competent will take charge.

    The saddest thing watching here is that everything is generally the same after every season, year after year and there is no talk on atleast the short term future for the airline, everything seems to be taken care of as it comes.

    @ anonymous

    Code share is good in a sense that the airlines involved sell tickets for each others flights. More tickets sold = more filled cabins (higher CLF) = more profitable flights. It gives people the choice on flights, booking with 1 airline but using 2.

    @ VisitBengaluru

    Konkurencija is not translated as concurence, rather competition ;)

  24. Anonymous04:14

    In early 80's there was one army general (Radosavljevic or something like that), but one that was remembered as good was Miljenko Zrelec, socialistic 'businessman' and during that time commercial manager was Vujovic mentioned in above text. It is obvious that times has changed, specially in aviation business, as one can see same people managing same company under different circumstances....same as fameous GENEX manager Savicevic, when he was appointed for gen manger in GENEX in 2000 he almost finished handcuffed in jail...most of airline managers in ex-yu region are still like from 80's because they based their job with strong support of government (SER,SLO,CRO,MGX,MAT,BIH...)When game starts to play acc to market rules, most of them would never come even close to the aviation business! Thanks

  25. Anonymous04:17

    And yes, during JAT's history it has been hardly supported by government even market was much bigger, competition weaker and there was monopolistic position on domestic routes (naturally).Just few years in history JAT by itself made profit (two times in 80's and dont know about earlier years).

  26. Anonymous07:01

    What a shame if not embarassing. Such a good airline during it's glory years. It shows how bad it is now when the last aircraft they ordered new was in the 1980's!

    Please could a strong International business or airline buy them and install a new management team.

  27. JATBEGMEL08:50

    @ anonymous

    Yugoslavian domestic flights was more duoply than monopoly in a sense that JP also did domestic flights (not to the extent JAT did) and AGX was doing alot of charters. I believe in those days JAT had a charter airline known as Air Yugoslavia if im not mistaken. I would (or like to) think that JAT was for many years making profit with alot of cargo being transported domestically and internationally, Germany was always a money maker for the airline. Im not to sure as to how much profit the ultra long haul destinations such as LAX, MEL, SYD, PER made but they were there for many many years.

  28. Anonymous09:24

    Jat used to make profit on Euro-mediteranian flights called at the time...both domestic nd intercontinental were making loss. It is true that JAT also performed cargo flights mostlu with Boeing 707(YU-AGA,AGB), buth it was myth that it makes lot of money..it was lot of politics involved with independant states (nezavisne zemlje) in Africa, mostly agriculturl products and food.Maximum payload was about 35 tonnes. Even if it make money cargo was not significant part of JAT ops.Times were better back then, ticket rates were higher and it was not such competitition like nowdays, but it was always strugling for profit.At JAT's peak it has been 35 airplanes, 5 DC-10, and 10 B737 (new), 10 B727 and 10 DC9. There were almost 10.000 employees, 15 domestic destinations, over 35 euro-mediteranian and 10 intercontinental destinations. There were offices all around and curiosity is that there has been offline office in Tokyo for years even they never intended to fly there...Adria has some domestic flights, but mostly they flew charters like Aviogenex.There is a book about JAT and you can find some interesting things there...cheers!

  29. Anonymous09:35

    And there were almost 5 milion pax in 1989...same as JP,JU,OU,MGX,BH together nowdays with around 50 airplanes...different times!

  30. Purger22:24

    "Germany was always a money maker for the airline".

    That is not true. Adria dominate German routes with "worker regular charter flights" every Wednesday and Saturday to some 10-12 destinations in Germany + connections to most of Yugoslav airports.

    Adria has almost same number of domestic flights as JAT, but in just few of them they have competition. In most of those they split market. Almost 40% of JAT passengers were domestic, and almost 60% from/to Croatia.

    Today OU, JP, JU, YM and JA have more pax than JAT in best year. But do not forget that JAT was hardly financed by SFRJ (planes paid from budget, some political lines financed from budget, obligation of communists and "managers" to fly with JAT, protection of competition, that means every possible airline must have approval by JAT to get clearance to fly to Yugoslavia...).

    AIR YUGOSLAVIA was not charter but regular working charter company, that means they have regular flights but just passengers with documents as Yugoslav citizens working in Germany, Switzerland and USA + their families can fly with those planes.

    If you want I have time-table of Adria and Air Yugoslavia from those years.

  31. Anonymous07:58

    5% more pax for all of them together...
    And yes, they are all still financed by their governments. That is clearly visible by trying to sell JP,JU,MGX (JA is already Turkish's)don't know about OU.
    (OU has received 42.4 milion EUR grant from government, JP more than that, JU also over 50 milions). Formally, thay are not financed but when it comes to debt, yes, government is always there. People are playing aviation here!

  32. Anonymous08:02

    @ purger
    Air Yugoslavia was an airline based in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). It was established in 1969 and operated numerous international charter passenger services, using aircraft from parent airline Jugoslovenski Aero Transport (JAT)'s fleet. Its main base was Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport.

    Air Yugoslavia officially existed as a subsidiary of JAT, although it didn't operate a single flight for more than a decade. The division called "Air Yugoslavia" has been replaced with the Charter and Tourism Department within Jat Airways in 2005.


  33. Purger09:36

    Of course, but they had regular time-table for "working flights". Example from 1990:

    Cleveland --3---- via ZAG
    Detroit --3---- via ZAG
    Dusseldorf 1-3-56- via ZAG
    Hamburg 1---5-- via ZAG
    Stuttgart -2--56- via ZAG

    Cleveland --3---- 1stop
    Detroit --3---- nonstop
    Dusseldorf 1-3-567 nonstop
    Hamburg 1---5-- nonstop
    Stuttgart -2--56- nonstop

  34. @ Anonymous Oct 20, 09:24 AM

    Plenty of false and not-true statements in your post.

    As a JAT employee at the time you speak about, allow me to correct you:

    Cargo flights in general were always profitable. That is the case with B707 flights to Africa (and Asia), too, which flights transported much much more different (and much much more valuable) cargo in addition to agricultural products. Those flights were never subsidised and they operated to non-aligned, not "independent states" (nesvrstane a ne nezavisne), which were very good payers, in money, and goods.

    Absolutely not true that long haul was not profitable. It is true that domestic services were unprofitable, and were partly financed and subsidised with money earned in "Euromediterranean". And it is true that most of the income was coming from "Euromediterrannean", but only because this segment represented about 60% of total traffic. And it is true that income realised on long-haul was lower, but it doesn't mean that long-haul was not profitable. On the contrary, it was very profitable, had best load factors of all segments of traffic, and plans were to have fastest and biggest growth precisely in long-range; therefore 6 MD-11's were already on order or option (later taken by Swissair), and purchasing of B767 simultaneously was seriously considered. All of this is stated in literature aboul ex-JAT, you are mentioning.

    Wrong, too, are numbers of destinations you gave. JAT used to fly to 19 domestic destinations, not 15, destinations in Euromed were over 50 (about 45 operated all-year around, and about 5-10 operated seasonally, in summer). Long haul destinations operated by DC10 were 16, not 10, plus nearer (Middleeast dest; Kuwait, Baghdad...) operated by B737/B727.

    Finally, Tokyo. Office there was opened at the same time when application was filed for JAT flights to Tokyo. Japanese Government was refusing to issue permits to JAT to operate these flights for 13 years, with excuse that Tokyo airport cannot handle anymore new flights. When JAT proposed introduction of flights to Nagoya, insted Tokyo, that was refused, too, but JAT DID PLAN to fly to Japan, the same case as with Seoul(South Korea), which flights were about to start when shit in ex-Yu started to happen, and ex_JAT practically died.

  35. Anonymous22:24

    pozdrav iz rijeke i love what you write..so fascinating !
    our yugoslavia could have achieved so much if those selfish people dont declared independence .
    What have we now...
    banana republics !
    Albanians occupy more and more of what was yugoslavia !
    how i hate all those people who are traitors of yugoslavia ..i wish them to die miserable..they deserve not better !

  36. @Last Anonymous

    Unfortunatelly for you, I don't like what you write.

    The only difference between us is that I write about aviation, and you write about politics.

    General manager of JAT in time I'm talking about was Miljenko Zrelec, and Prime Minister was Ante Markovic. Those two were doing Business, more precisely developing aviation in ex-YU ( which should be issue on this blog).

    Some other people didn't talk, and didn't act business, but POLITICS, exactly what you are doing now. And maybie that's where you should search for those guilty for disintegration of former country, not "in those selfish people who declared independence".

    And finally, I'm not glad that you like what I write. Not coming from person who hates and wishes anyone to die miserably.

  37. Tupolev16023:59

    Absolute truth and probably the Article of the year on Ex-Yu Aviation. I'm glad that these informations became available in this form. By the way, who is the one who sent JAT's DC-10 and rest of the fleet (such as the 727, that could have been used on non-Eu routes) to scrapyard?
    All in all, a shameful record, that's it seems set to become a tradition.

  38. Anonymous03:20

    pozdrav iz rijeke i know what i talk
    my father had very good job in Yugoslavia ,he was born before second world war and dedicated all his life to Yugoslavia which he
    loved so much..too much !
    He made suicide in 1993...without his
    country he could not live more,
    he became depressive..
    It ruined life of my parents.
    My mother and me and my brothers
    left Belgrade for Croatia ...
    my parents are both from Cakovec,
    Medimurje originally.
    But our neighbours hated us ...
    they did not accept us because we
    lived in Serbia before war .
    So we went to Germany...my mother is also dead now.This independence is so worthless.Also in Serbia lived so many of our Croats ...
    now all our life is ruined !
    Why only people think selfish ...
    now we are strangers in what was our own country...what is our future ...we dont have a future .

  39. Anonymous07:24

    @pozdrav iz Rijeke
    Sorry, I did not mean to make competition in this article. I tought that it will be interesting to younger and other people who ha not been involved tht much in JAT before war.
    You are probably right about number of destinations (I did not have book in front of me, I was typing according what I remember). 19 domestic destinations probably include Mostar, Portoroz, Osijek and Maribor (I fly Belgrade-Berane on DC-3 in 1969) but I did not think that it is so important. I did not know details about Tokyo except that there was office (isn't that strange that they opened office first and then waited for permissions for 13 years?)-also, you have to admit that cargo was not such precious as Yugoslavia was not some high-tech country - again I do not want to say that there was not some expensive cargo, too....hopefully you get the point, I was talking about both bad and good things back than....sorry did not mean to offence anybody, cheers!


    @ anonymous from October 21, 2011 10:24 PM and October 22, 2011 3:20 AM

    This blog is or should be about ex-Yu aviation.

    Please don't bring the politics in.

    While myself and probably most people here sympathize with your losses, it's got nothing to do with the subject, i.e. ex-Yu aviation or in this case Jat.
    Fully agree with pozdrav iz Rijeke.
    Pozdrav iz Beograda.

  41. Anonymous16:43

    Talking about aviation in Ex Yu but not talking about politics?
    Impossible...as long as our national airlines are government owned.
    Jat was or is the best example for this.
    Why not leave the blog as it is...
    let everyone give his statement ...
    i think the admin does a good job in deleting only the ones which make no sense.But some political comments you can not delete...
    they are only signs of todays reality we live in.
    Problems in Bosnia and with Kosovo do not dissapear if we ignore them.
    Delete only the worst,stupid and most senseless comments but be aware, that this blog also does not become a victim of politic correctness!

  42. @ Anonymous I've corrected :

    Absolutely no reason to apologize to me and be sorry, however apology accepted. It was not my goal to quarrel and argue, I just wanted to give objective information for stuff I'm sure was not correctly given.
    And for additional domestic services, you are right, those included Mostar, Osijek, Portoroz.
    The last, in chronological (re)opening was Nis, not Maribor, but generraly you are right. I definitelly didn't speak about Berane,Ivangrad,Rozaje and similar,operated long long ago-I was reffering to 1989-1990.
    And concerning cargo, I was talking weapons, most precious export ware from ex-YU to non-aligned countries. Fortunatelly, "Dangerous goods" regulations at that time were much much less restrictive -:)

    @ Anonymous who hates

    It makes no difference to me which nationality you are. I live in HR, but I'm not Croatian by ethnicity, so your "excuse" makes no sense. I am really sorry for your loss, but maybie it's time you stop blaming others for that, maybie even continue to blame, but hatry, based on politics, pointed at those "who declared independence"??? Sorry, but I can't understand that.

    @ VisitAuschwitz!

    Your nick says a lot. And bustards, lazy asses, rott, hell, gravestone, fuckia, die, toilet, and all that in only few lines of text say even more.

    I fully agree that today's JAT is bad company, mismanaged, with huge political influence, low quality level of product, ancient fleet, maybie even questionable safety, one part of lazy employees, even today communist state of mind of lot of them...
    But what I cannot agree is once again hatry, offences and unjust. And that's precisely what I runned away from, leaving JAT back in 1991, when it started to become such-full of hatry, offence and unjust to all of those who wanted to transform it to better,functional,profitable and self-sustained airline without political influence.

  43. Guys, there is no CEO which could help Jat now. Neither it was a few years ago. With these masks, they are just prolonging definite thing - bankruptcy.

    What is bodering me is talking about founding a new company - more space for... well, you'll see here.


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