A new look, logo and name of ‘Air Serbia’ that shall be led by an Australian of Serbian origin Dane Kondic, is the result of the yesterday signing of agreement on strategic partnership between the JAT Airways and the Etihad of Aby Dhabi. The first plane with the new logo of ‘Air Serbia’ should take off as early as in October. Until the end of the year another ten Airbus planes shall join the fleet.
Although it was announced that the actual Director of the JAT Airways Velibor Vukasinovic would sign the agreement at a ceremony at the Hyatt Hotel as per authorization by Serbia Parliament, that has not happened. Instead the agreement was signed by the First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in the name of Serbia Government and James Hogan, the Etihad President.
This put end to several months of negotiations and expectations that the fallen national carrier will be saved. The Etihad has officially become the owner of the 49-percent stake in a joint venture with Serbia, but with managing rights over the five-year period what means that it is the Etihad to appoint the management.
Director Dane Kondic is the Etihad’s choice and he was publicly presented yesterday.
The first man of the Etihad James Hogan said that the company from Abu Dhabi would enter the JAT on October 1 and that ten Airbus planes would be in the fleet until the end of the year.
‘Initially we shall introduce ten A319 planes but there are parallel talks with the Boeing and the Airbus that those planes are replaced with the new A320neo or B737max within period of 24 to 36 months’, Hogan said.
He presented a rather ambitious plan according to which the new management led by Kondic is to make of the Air Serbia a profitable company in a year time. Vucic, however revealed that the plan is even more ambitious than that.
‘Dane Kondic said that the Air Serbia would become profitable within 24 months, but in the meantime James Hogan wrote to me on a piece of paper that he had given them 12-month deadline’, Vucic said.
As regards a difficult topic concerning the surplus labor, nobody wanted to talk about it yesterday. It seems that pilots and other flying staff should not worry. Actually, the surplus labor is in the administration. Hogan said that in the following five weeks he would analyze all parts of the company and start interviews with the employees.
According to the agreement signed, the company from the Abu Dhabi is to invest in the Air Serbia 40 million Dollars immediately and secure further 60 millions through credit lines. Serbia Government is to secure the same amount.