The AirAsia fairytale

Minister not held accountable for false claims

Earlier this month, Serbian press reported that the low cost Malaysian airline, AirAsia, was in the final stages of purchasing a stake in Jat Airways. Media reports suggested AirAsia had decided to turn Belgrade into its European hub point so as to carry passengers to Kuala Lumpur from where they would catch onward connections to Australia and Asia. In return, Jat would carry AirAsia passengers onwards to European destinations. The news was further given fuel when the Serbian Minister for Transport, Milutin Mrkonjić, confirmed that the government was in talks for AirAsia to buy Jat.

However, AirAsia CEO, Tony Fernandes, denied any possibility of a takeover only an hour after the minister made the grand announcement. Instead, AirAsia officials were in scouting missions in Europe, researching new markets, a common practice among airlines. The takeover talk soon faded from the headlines with Minister Mrkonjić not held accountable for his false statements. The issue once again illustrated the lack of interest the government has in solving the issues Jat is facing, which include an aging fleet which is becoming costlier to maintain by the day and high debt.

In 2010, Minister Mrkonjić announced that a Turkish takeover of Jat Airways was “a done deal”. There was even talk of transforming Jat into “Balkan Airways” which would have bases in Belgrade, Sarajevo, Podgorica and Skopje. Only several months later, when Turkish denied its interest in Jat, Mrkonjić announced, “With its current fleet Jat won’t be able to fly for more than a year”. In 2011, Mrkonjić was singing a new tune - Jat would be no more and Serbia would create a successor national carrier. After a failed privatisation attempt later in the year, the minister announced that Serbian businessmen would invest millions into the national carrier. Late last month, the minister announced yet another change in strategy. “The entire story with businessmen buying Jat won’t materialise. My proposal is for us to keep our national airline and for it to stay in state hands”, Mrkonjić said. Two weeks later the Minister was announcing an AirAsia takeover of Jat. Where will Jat go from here only Minister Mrkonjić knows. Or does he?

Do you think the Serbian government has a plan for its embattled national carrier? Can unfounded claims by state officials hurt the company? Send in your comments.


  1. Anonymous09:14

    On and on... for how long ?
    If nothing else, the airplanes themselves would need to get replaced - probably soon, right ? Most of them were delivered in the 2nd half of the 1980s.
    The government would be best off to sell the company for a dollar. Whoever overtakes it, will be paying off debt, but at least they'll get numerous slots across Europe.
    First step would be to restructure the company, rebrand it and replace the current fleet within 5 yrs.

    I don't see other option. Jat can't be flying like this for ever: with no clear plan of what to do. Government has no money, nor do taxpayers. What does IMF say on the policy regarding Jat ?

    1. Anonymous09:16

      They want the government to sell it asap along with the airport.

  2. Anonymous09:18

    Mrkonjic is an absolute imbecile. He will say one thing one day and something else the other, depending how much he has had to drink that day.

  3. Anonymous09:34

    Serbia is not able not only to manage the airline, but also the entire state. So nothing new.

    1. Stratospheric10:39

      Serbia is a failed-state. But others in the region, don't get high, i even don't consider you a state at all, you're simply small artificially created colonies of Western powers.

    2. Anonymous14:02

      Sweety, I am from Novi Beograd and I have written the comment.

    3. Anonymous14:17

      Who tells you i am not from Serbia as well? Does only Croats think bad of Serbia and its situation? Serbia is in an apocalyptic state.

  4. Anonymous09:35

    BEG not for sale. You are spreading lies.

    1. Anonymous10:05

      I didn’t say it’s for sale I said the MMF suggested for it to go on sale. Don’t worry since DInkic holds the airport he isn’t going to sell the company which brings his party the most cash.

  5. Anonymous09:40

    But when zagreb gets built, america is gonna colapse hahahahahhaahhh

    1. Anonymous10:40

      You can lough all you want, but leave Zagreb and Croatia alone. They'll both do well.

    2. Anonymous11:02

      When Zagreb this, when Zagreb that...the fact is that Zagreb looks still the same as on the postcards that Ex-Yu posted in the left corner.

    3. Anonymous11:06

      They should maybe start marketing Zagreb as "The best preserved vintage airport in Europe" cause that makes definitely more sense than "Recognizable transit hub" LOL and it could actually even work and really attract airlines better than this nonsense. "Experience the 60s on your flight to Zagreb...".

    4. Anonymous11:13

      Actually than makes sense. I see striking similarities between ZAG and FNJ:

      They do organize vintage-aviation tours in there, for 1750 or smth.

    5. Anonymous11:17

      That is not true. Or you don't know situation today, or you are lying for provocation. Just in last 5 years Zagreb airport invest 50 millions EUR in building and equipment. Today Zagreb airport is small but totally restored inside and outside, and it looks quite pretty, for sure pleasant. It is clean and very functional (especially with limited space it has).

      Unfortunately Zagreb airport was not built in 1980's out of Yugoslav budget like Belgrade and most of airports in Yugoslavia. Just bed luck? I don't thing so!

      But you don't have to worry about Zagreb airport, situation will change in very short time. But I don't understand why you change discussion from Jat to Zagreb airport? Zagreb airport is USA comparing to situation in Jat.

    6. Anonymous11:18

      "Just bed luck? I don't thing so!"

      Where did you learn your English or is that Croatian-English?

    7. Anonymous11:22

      I see certain number of former brothers are already in agony concerning LDZA.
      Just wondering how they will cope when new ZG terminal opens, which btw will be within 10 best world airports and certainly the nicest one.

    8. Anonymous11:33

      "when new ZG terminal opens..."

      When Zagreb this, when Zagreb that...

    9. Anonymous11:35

      "which btw will be within 10 best world airports and certainly the nicest one."

      Oh yeah, i'm sure its gonna eclipse NDIA and PEK airports, maybe even QR might want to transfer its whole hub to ZAG!

    10. Purger11:36

      ZAG is expected to handle ~20 million pax a year by 2030.

    11. DKinVXO12:02

      This is ridiculous. Yes Zagreb is not the best airport in ex-YU today, and yes it's nowadays a bit strange that a capital airport does not have jetways. But you know what, in a few years Croatia will have 3 airports with jetways. Who laughs last laughs the best or what the hell it's called in english.

    12. Anonymous03:17

      20 mil pax a year in 2030? Where is that growth coming from?! Wow, I'd say this is utterly unrealistic. I don't mean to rain on anybody's parade, but 20 million for an economy and city size of Zagreb, plus ZAG not being a hub of a major airline - no way this is happening. Perhaps, all Croatian airports put together plus BEG - maybe close to 20 million.

    13. Purger08:51

      Zagreb is not expecting 30 million passengers per year in 2030. That is not true, but it is just a child provocation. Actually, Zagreb expects 8 million passengers per year in 2042. If Zagreb reaches milestone of 8 million passengers sometime between 2032 and 2042 concessionaire has an obligation to invest in capacity expansion.

  6. Anonymous11:10

    Actually than makes sense. I see striking similarities between ZAG and FNJ:

    They do organize vintage-aviation tours in there, for 1750 or smth.

  7. Anonymous11:11

    Zagreb: Aviation as is once was.
    Fits the brand perfectly.

    ;) A joke to lighten matters up.

    1. Anonymous11:38

      We citizens of Gospic & Smiljan have already initiated that new ZG terminal gets a name after one of greatest Croatian scientists and inventors born i our county, since only such architectural achievement such as new LDZA deserves his name.

    2. Anonymous17:36

      BEG as well as ZAG are ugly as hell and look like third world airports.
      But that does not count...they are good enough for what they do.
      They are simply airports not cathedrals.
      What matters is that it works efficient and does not make debt.
      Someone who travels around the world regularly knows that most airports are nothing more than glorified bus stations,
      so relax fools !

    3. Anonymous18:34

      you calling them third world airports gives away the fact you obviously don't "travel the world" as much as you boast

  8. Anonymous11:41

    From 1 April 2013, Flydubai is increasing DXB-BEG-BEG route to 6 weekly. Flights operated on all days excl. Wednesdays.

    1. Anonymous11:44

      Sorry, I meant to type DXB-BEG-DXB.

    2. Anonymous17:38

      so they continue five weekly in winter season?!
      Wow,i expected them to decrease frequency
      for winter.

    3. Anonymous19:34

      No, they'll reduce it to 4 weekly, day: 1,4,6,7 and then increase it to 6 weekly on 1 April 2013.

    4. Anonymous19:39

      Ah,okay ...thank you for that information!

  9. Anonymous11:42

    EX-YU... Croatia Airlines announced flights between Osijek-Zgreb and Osijek-Split, so you can add them on the right side in new route launches...

  10. Anonymous13:44

    I posle svi kudite JAT, nije on takav kao sto izgleda.Celnici poput mrke su ga doveli na ovakvo mesto.:(((

  11. Anonymous14:01

    There is no room to compare BEG with ZAG. Croatia has lots of operational airports unlike Serbia. It's quite normal that the numbers remain high for the sole airport in the whole country. Not to mention that now even INI looses Montenegro Airlines. The way a terminal looks like does not mean the airport is a crappy one. It might be more profitable to do ZAG with a small a/c than to do BEG with, say a 180 seater.

    1. Anonymous15:43

      Read the news and youll see Montenegro airlines have come to an agreement to fly podgorica - nis 5x/w and will try to get approval for flights to other european cities over the winter period.

  12. Anonymous14:19

    I am sick of reading your petty nationalistic quarrels. You're no better than the wretched drunkard in the picture.

    1. Anonymous17:43

      Please dont talk so bad about that person.
      I agree with you all, that he has zero knowledge of what he does.
      But we should not treat other people like trash!
      We should behave like civilized people with good manners!
      Thank you.

  13. Anonymous14:25

    Jatove pompozne gluposti netko je na forumu odlicno prozvao Jatovanje. Pa evo najupecatljivijih primjera u zadnjih 10-tak godina da se ne zaborave kada Jat provali neku novu glupost:

    1. Kupnja flote 320 family se najavljivala nekoliko puta. Cak se najavljivalo i da je Airbus pristao da akontaciju za A320 prebace na kupovinu novih ATR-ova. To je nekoliko puta bila “gotova stvar”.

    2. Pa su krajem 2009. kao “gotovu stvar” najavljivali zakup dva 737-700 iako u to vrijeme na trzistu nije bilo slobodnih 737-700. Od istog su “odustali” u 4. mjesecu 2010. Isto tako su najavili kao gotovu stvar zakupljivanje A320 za 2 milijuna EUR tijekom zime 2010/11. Nikoga nije iznenadilo kada se i to nije desilo.

    3. Jat je zestoko najavljivao Low cost kompaniju sa ATR-72 sa kojima ce se povezati svi gradovi bivse Jugoslavije, i nimalo im nije smetalo sto u svijetu ne postoje LCC sa turbopropnim avionima.

    4. Jat je bio i predvodnik globalistickih prica. Tako su pompozno najavljivali aliansa Adrie, CTN-a, Air Bosne, Macedoniana, LAZ-a i jos nekih firmi pod patronatom JAT-a. Eto, 3 od tih 6 kompanija danas vise ne postoje.

    5. Pa ista prica nekoliko godina kasnije (9. mjesec 2010.) kada su najavili ujedinjenje flota sa Montenegrom, kao početak regionalne alijanse, da bi samo par dana kasnije Montenegro demantirao ikakvu mogucnost ujedinjenja.

    6. No, nije se Jat sirio samo u regiji. On se sirio i po planetu. Tako su najavili da ce u Gvienu poslati 3 do 7 aviona i tamo otvoriti bazu, te tako zaposliti prastare avione koji su za Afriku jos uvijek dovoljno dobri. Naravno, istime bi se otvorila sredstva i prostor za kupovinu nove flote za Srbiju.

    7. Imao je Jat i svoje planove i za SAD i nimalo ga nije prijecilo sto je protiv pameti da kompanija sa 900.000 putnika godisnje u danasnje vrijeme ne moze niti pomisliti otvoriti tako sto. Prvo su stvarno otvorili linija za Ameriku sa marketinski vrlo “pametnom” ex. SSSR banana drzavnom kompanijom koja je na svojoj liniji za New York imala stop u Beogradu.

    8. Potom su nabavili 767 i potrosili brdo novaca za otvaranje linija sa za SAD bez da su osigurali preduvjete za istu. Jat odskolovao posada, dao kapara za avione, potrosio brdo para za pripremu linije, no sve se svelo da su radili "razanj a zec je bio jos u sumi", Amerikanci im nisu dali dozvole za letenje prema SAD-u.

    9. No tu snovi nisu stali. Ova prica se ponovila i u 9. mjesecu 2010. kada je Drzavni sekretar u Ministarstvu za infrastrukturu Srbije Miodrag Miljkovic izjavio je za Radioteleviziju Srbije da bi direktni letovi JAT Airwaysa za Sjedinjene americke drzave mogli poceti do sredine 2012. godine. Miljkovic je objasnio da bi kompanija za te potrebe iznajmljivala letjelice poput Boeinga 767 ili Airbusa A330. Prosla sredina 2012. a od letova ni “l”.

  14. Anonymous14:25

    10. Jat je kao “lider u regiji” nekoliko puta “preuzimao” kompanije. Pa je tako u svim medijima najavio "prinudno" preuzimanje Montenegra jel je Montenegro u takvoj banani da im je to jedini izlaz prije vrlo brzog bankrota, uz pametnu poslovnu izjavu "bolje im je da ih mi preuzmemo jel im je to jedina slamka spasa". Naravno Montenegro je sa podsmjehom rekao “da Jat nije u poziciji da prinudno preuzme Montenegro”. Nekoliko godina kasnije pokazalo se da je Montenegro stvarno u banani, ali da je Jat u jos nekoliko puta goroj.

    11. No, to ih nije sprijecilo da pompozno i preuranjeno najave "preuzimanja MAT-a" koja je vec iduci dan demantirana. Niti je MAT preuzet, niti je MAT spasen od bankrota, niti je Jat blizu otvaranja baze u SKP iako su to nekoliko puta najvljivali kao strateski potez.

    12. Tom planu zasigurno nije pomoglo navlacenje bijesa putnika i siroke javnosti u Makedoniji od strane pilota koji je provalio "Dobro dosli u bivsu Jugoslavenstu republiku Makedoniju". I umjesto da ga je kompanija dobrano zašamarala, ona ga je nakon toga jos i ozbiljno branila jer eto nije rekao nista netocno. Istina je da nije rekao nista netocno, ali moras biti preglup da tako sto kazes putnicima koji su na to alergicni i time ih usmjeris da ubuduce lete konkurencijom. Takvih “profesionalnih” bisera Jatovih posada je bilo vise nego nekoliko.

    13. Medju Jatovanjima svako ne smijemo zaboraviti niti na “genijalne” i nikad sazivjele poteze managementa. Tako je pompozno najavljivana linija prema Hamburgu sa konekcijama na Emiratesove letove prema SAD-u koja je propala za manje od 3 mjeseca

    14. Tome treba dodati i neslavan zavrsetak suradnja sa Emiratesom preko Dubaija uz konekcije prema Istoku koji je posao najavljivan kao posao desetljeca i ubrzo propao.

    15. Nakon propasti posla sa Emiratesom ista prica se pokusala i sa Etihadom i kasnije u i sa Singaporeom, iako ni u jednom slucaju cak ni u redu letenja nije bilo navodjenja code-share linija ili barem konekcija niti od strane Etihada/Sinagaporea niti Jata.

    16. Nekloliko puta su ih veliki igraci “vec kupili” Jat (pitanje sata, a ne dana). Prvo Aeroflot, pa Turkish (6/2010.), pa sad nedavno AirAsia (9/2012). U prvom slucaju Aeroflot je podvio rep cim je vidio nerealne srpske uvjete, u ostala dva kompanije su ostro demantirale ikakvu mogucnost kupovine Jata.

    U posljednjih 10-tak godina Jat je imao puno pompoznih najava i potom se samo izblamirao. Pa svaku najavu, poput ove zadnje za AirAsiu treba dozivjeti poput parodija Mel Brooksa i dobro se nasmijati.

    1. JATBEGMEL23:44

      potpuno se slazem kod dosta tacaka, samo kod tacke...:

      1. 8 vazduhoplova tipa A319 je bilo naruceno od strane vlade bivse SR Jugoslavije 1998. g., u kome je 23,5 miliona evra ulozena u navedeni sporni ugovor. No, doslo do promena vlasti 5. oktobra 2000. godine pa pretpostavljam da znas sve ostalo.

      2. Bilo je poznato da ce B737 reg. br. N853AM leteti za Jat ervejza od sept 2009. g. No, smenjeni su direktori u JAT-u tako da Srdjan Radovanovic kao novi direktor firme otkazao zakup.

      11. JAT godinama pokusava da osniva aviokompaniju u Makedoniji (Aeromak), no bili su odbijeni od strane vlade R. Makedonije.

      13. JAT je tada imao ugovor sa Emiratima za letove do Australije. Taj let za Njujork preko Hamburga se pokazalo fantasticno, steta sto nije bilo kod ser let. No, LH je pretila da ce otkazati saradnju sa JAT-om i zbog toga je JAT otkazala te letove.

      14. JAT-ove letove za Dubai su bili veoma uspesni, gde je Sidnejska kancelarija pokazala kao najprofitabilniji od mreze kancelarija Jat ervejza. Ugovor je pocela 2003. godine. JAT pak pokusava da se vrati u Dubai, no JAT je pametno prodao sve svoje slotove, one najtrazenije tokom jutarnjog spica, i pogodi ostalo. Trenutno na relaciju DXB-BEG leti FZ koja pokazuju dobre rezultate, tako da ce uskoro ponovo pojacati frekvenciju. Misljenje sam da FZ istrazuju trzistu za EK.

      Za sve ostalo, svaka cast, odlicno si napisao.

  15. Anonymous16:07

    Besides, if Air Asia already tried to enter the European market and walked away, why the hell would they choose an airline like JU to cooperate with? There are so many airlines in Europe, which have better management, routes, concept and most importantly fleet. OU and JP are currently more modern and advanced than JU.

  16. Anonymous17:27

    Regarding the article...
    I fear that politicians all over the world are like Mr. Mrkonjic.
    The difference is that marketing and public relations are much more developed in western countries than in Serbia .
    When you see what effort is done for packing bad news in shiny ,beautiful clothes to make them appear as good news you will agree with me.
    So what Mr.Mrkonjic needs is a good PR consultant.

  17. Anonymous00:41

    Ussr banana country? Well their newest B767NG is worth like all ex Yu airlines combined.

    1. Anonymous09:01

      He wasn't talking about the USSR (or Russia), but rather Uzbekistan!

  18. Anonymous07:23

    That is it. Uzbekistan is devolping. Their cities got metro unlike his dumphole.


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