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“Belgrade should become air transport hub in Balkans”

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CEO James Hogan says Etihad’s goal is for Serbia to get a new national airline and turn Belgrade into the center of air transport in the Balkans.

Etihad would not be here if it did not believe Air Serbia will have an exciting future, Hogan said after signing the strategic partnership agreement between Etihad and Jat Airways, which transforms Jat Airways into Air Serbia.

This is a great day for Air Serbia and Etihad, he said, adding the company had set very clear and profitable goals.

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The vision of Sheikh Mohammed and the Etihad management board is a strategy of partnership and profitable investments, Hogan stated, adding there would be fundamental changes in business, from the management to the fleet.

Etihad has analyzed the possibility of building a strong base in Belgrade and it is convinced it can change Jat Airways and create an airline that will be a leader in the sector, he noted.

The new Serbian personnel from Etihad will add to the existing employees of Jat Airways and new aircraft and destinations will be added in stages, from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne, Sydney and Chicago.

Ten new Airbus A319 will be provided first, and the plan is to replace them with even newer Boeing 737 in 24-36 months, he said.

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The credit for the new brand goes to Serbian student Tamara Maksimović, he pointed out.

The new management will have to make some tough decisions because the airline has to undergo restructuring, Hogan said.

Changes depend on the leaders, and the new head of the company, Dane Kondić, who has 20 years of experience, is the right man at the right place, he stressed.

Dane Kondić, head of new national air carrier Air Serbia, stated on Thursday that his goal is to transform Jat Airways into a profitable, stable and strong company.

Eve of the signing of a strategic partnership agreement with the United Arab Emirates, Kondić said that the main goal is fast and secure stabilization of the company, reduction of its expenditures and debts and creation of conditions for liquidity in the next four months.

“A new name for the company means a new start and implies a new beginning. Air Serbia will be an advertisement for the Republic of Serbia,” Kondić said.

New planes will be introduced which will emit less carbon dioxide, make less noise and spend less fuel.

“The current fleet served its purpose well, but it became unprofitable,” Kondić said, stressing that new planes will improve the quality of business of Air Serbia.

Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and head of the United Arab Emirates national airline Etihad James Hogan signed a strategic partnership agreement in Belgrade on Thursday, which turned Jat Airways into Air Serbia.

Source B92

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