Plan B for JatOver 20 days after the Serbian Government opened a tender to find a partner to create a successor national carrier to Jat Airways, not a single airline or investment group has even bought the tender documentation. With just over a month left until the tender deadline ends, most believe the process is destined for failure. Former Jat Airways CEO, Predrag Vujović, who helped get Jat back on its feet following the lifting of international sanctions, says that the new national carrier would be unable to inherit Jat’s lucrative landing slots at major European airports. Since Serbia is a part of the European Open Sky Agreement, any airline from the European Union can easily base an aircraft in Belgrade and begin operations. It does not need to own an airline in Serbia, together with the government, to do so.
The government, which seems to be aware of the impending tender failure, plans to professionalise the airline’s management after September 30 and leave Jat Airways as the national carrier. Currently, most CEOs of state owned companies in Serbia are named by the parties in the governing coalition. Most of those chosen have little knowledge on how to run a company and are purely chosen upon party lines, which more often than not leads to bad results and corruption. However, the government now plans to professionalise and depoliticise these positions, starting with Jat. Following the selection of a new CEO the government would give a guarantee for the airline to take out a loan and purchase several new aircraft.
Jat Airways has been reporting a strong increase in passenger numbers this year. However, the top management’s decision to push through constant promotional ticket sales, even during the high summer season, has led the airline to increase its losses this year.