Summer of change at Jat

Debt free summer with new management and jets

Jat Airways is on course to become the first debt free airline in the former Yugoslavia after the Serbian government announced it will take over the airline’s entire debt. The carrier’s accumulated debt, which stretches back to Yugoslav times, amounts to 170 million euros. “It is important that the government has decided to take on the debt itself”, the Serbian Minister for Transport, Milutin Mrkonjić, said, adding that such a decision has been made in order to solve all problems relating to Jat. “Offcourse we will take over the entire debt. What can we do? Look for culprits and shove our heads in the sand again?” the minister asks.

The decision to take on Jat’s debt could have to do with talks which will be held this week between the Serbian government and Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi. The government has offered the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates a minority stake in the Serbian carrier in return for experienced pilots and land at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport for the construction of a cargo centre. Jat and Etihad have already exchanged information on bilateral agreements and international cooperation. Jat, whose two previous privatisation attempts failed, would be much more attractive to potential investors without the staggering debt it has to its name.

This Wednesday, the Serbian government is set to name a new CEO for Jat Airways in order to replace Vladimir Ognjenović, whose three year reign has been marred by mismanagement and recently crowned by a dire fleet shortage. Velibor Vukašinović is the government’s candidate to run the Serbian carrier. Mr. Vukašinović has never worked at Jat. He had trained at the flight academy in Zadar before completing a degree at the University of Belgrade, majoring in philosophy. He has worked as a test pilot at Serbia’s UTVA general aviation plane manufacturer. From 2004 until 2009 Mr. Vukašinović worked at the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate. He is currently a member of the task group in charge of restructuring Jat.


  1. Anonymous10:11

    They deserved an up after so many downs!

  2. Anonymous12:13

    Oh really? We have end of March....where are the new aircraft? Are the crews on training?I can hear for months only bla bla about Etihad and other UAE investments in Serbia. There is no single $ on any account, no agreement signed so far!
    I can see only cancellations of JAT Airways flights due to lack of aicraft. That's the reality!

    1. Anonymous12:31

      God, you are boring. Especially since you are so ignorant.
      If you bothered to read the news the aircraft are scheduled to delivery by June. The fact that it is almost April is highly irrelevant here.

    2. JATBEGMEL15:27

      sorry, the only ignorant person i see here is you. Talk of new aircraft coming to the fleet have been going on for more than 10 years! every year is the same plan to bring in aircraft which never happens. Out of 3 known aircraft coming to JAT (1 x B762, 1 x B737, 1 x ATR7) only the ATR came, later registered YU-ALS. I refuse to believe aircraft are coming until they touch down in BEG. The only thing JAT have done in the past 10 years is retire a/c from their fleet, DC9's, B727's, DC10's, B734's. Out of 10 B733's, 6 will fly, 1 allready (YU-ANH i think it is) has not flown in a year and wil never fly again. The other 3 will be canibalised for spare parts as the Serbian government is not willing to buy the spare parts needed, plus its costly to keep maintaining the a/c. If you bothered to read the news u would know this info.

  3. Anonymous14:57

    Maybie everyone deserves a chance, maybie there is something I don't know, maybie things have changed in the world while I was asleep, but somehow I think that degree in philosophy and experience in test piloting in general aviation is simply not enough and not adequate to be either in the task group for Jat's restructuring, and even more to become Jat's CEO. And because of that I don't see any change, which is in the headline, in summer, spring, or winter.

  4. JATBEGMEL15:32

    The comments by the minister is outrageous! The culprits are those in the government and their lack of care to domestic companies, but its nice to see Dinkic back selling the rest of whats Serbian as he didnt quite finish that when he was in the last government!

    It is finally time we saw something happening, at least theyre taking the debt, but unfortunately us who pay taxes in the Republic of Serbia will be paying for the decade of mismanagement!

  5. JU520 BEGLAX20:09

    The 170 mio debt will have to be covered by serbian taxpayers while future profits will end up in AUH... Exciting news for the local citizens....

    1. Anonymous20:40

      Serbian taxpayers will only pay for the mistakes of the past!

      The new owner is not guilty for what went wrong...
      Jat has now the opportunity to get saved.
      A lot of other companies were not so lucky and went bust.

  6. Anonymous20:32

    Etihad should buy Jat and appoint its new CEO.
    A foreigner with many years of experience should get the job.
    Now without the debt Jat has a future.

    But the government should not give away the best slots like that of London Heathrow...
    They should stay property of the state.

  7. JU520 BEGLAX06:14

    It s faking the market. If u buy company buy it all or nothing. How can Serbia make such a deal? So they have billions on their side to cover losses of local companies?
    All the airlines which are bankrupt should go bust. So it cleans the market for those doing business without governments support

    And finally the civil aviation industry could get more healthy again.
    Did u know that all 220 IATA carriers together post profits of around 8 bln USD. That s less than one global company such as for example Novartis Pharma in Basel.
    And it will not change as long those missmanaged companies are straining the market under the protective umbrella of their governments

  8. Anonymous14:16

    Where are the people saying it will be first to bankrupt now??? BOohoo our gov does what urs doestnt


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