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Done deal! Etihad takes over Jat Historic day for Serbian aviation

UPDATED  Done deal! Etihad takes over Jat  Historic day for Serbian aviation

News will have exclusive information from the Air Serbia employee briefing taking place later on today so make sure you visit this afternoon. In addition,  will have more details tomorrow at 09.00 CEST, including details regarding new routes, aircraft, branding, uniforms and much more.

New look Air Serbia
11.30: The takeover deal is signed. New Air Serbia livery includes the Serbian tricolour on the engines.

11.25: Danny Kondić now speaks, introducing himself and his long history in the aviation industry. “The aim is to transform Air Serbia into a stable, reliable and profitable carrier”, he says. In the next two years Air Serbia will be a stable company and will rationalise its business, Kondić adds. “Rebranding is taking place because of a new beginning. “New aircraft represent a new aim to improve quality. Air Serbia will be a commercial for Serbia itself. A completely new onboard product will be introduced. Air Serbia will cooperate with Etihad and its partner airlines”.

11.20: Etihad will take control of its stake in Air Serbia on January 1, 2014. There will be a total of twelve new routes this winter. Air Serbia will operate with two classes – business and economy.

AIR SERBIA

11.15: Mr. Hogan speaks of Jat’s long history as a national carrier and he notes Etihad also has a five year takeover deal with Air Seychelles (as is the case with Jat).

11.05: Mr. Vučić is addressing the press and thanking all involved in making the takeover deal possible. “I can say we are becoming a regional leader without it sounding pathetic”, he adds. Special thanks goes to the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi. “I hope Air Serbia will be a profitable company”.

11.00: The conference has begun. Speaking at the conference will be Etihad CEO James Hogan, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, Air Serbia CEO Danny “Dane” Kondić. Attending the conference is also the Australian Ambassador to Serbia Dr. Helena Studdert.

10.55: No signage of any “Air Serbia” branding yet. Jat Airways and Etihad logo images are featured at the Crystal Hall at the Hyatt Regency Hotel where the conference is taking place.

10.50: The conference will start soon

09.45: Following dinner with Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan last night in Belgrade, Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said, “This is outstanding news. We have signed many agreements but this is one of the most important ones. We will get an airline which will have the status of being the best”.

09.20: Etihad Airways will brief all Belgrade based Jat Airways (Air Serbia) employees at the Hyatt Regency Hotel from 14.30 CEST. The new management team will present their plans for the carrier to employees.

09.15: Air Serbia will be launching fourteen new routes. EX-YU Aviation News has exclusively revealed eleven of them. By clicking on the links you can view the preliminary scheduling for some of the new route launches: Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Banja Luka, Cairo, Varna, Sofia, Budapest, Warsaw, Kiev and Prague.

Today, Etihad Airways will take over a 49% stake in Jat Airways and rebrand the carrier into Air Serbia. On behalf of Etihad Airways the takeover agreement will be signed by CEO James Hogan, on behalf of the Serbian government it will be signed by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and on Jat’s behalf the agreement will be signed by outgoing CEO Velibor Vukašinović. Etihad will also take over Jat Catering and Jat’s handling division SU-PORT. Air Serbia, which will be launched today is not a new start up, instead, it is the legal successor to Jat Airways and will continue to use Jat’s international agreements, airport slots and its callsign and IATA designator. The new CEO of Air Serbia will be Danny Kondić, who has previously worked for Qantas Airways, British Airways and served as Malaysia Airlines’ Commercial Director.

✈ New aircraft ✈
Air Serbia will take delivery of two Airbus A319s by the end of the month. The two aircraft will feature the new Air Serbia branding and will be utilised on the airline’s busiest routes. Etihad Airways crew will be employed on the A319s until Jat’s own crew completes training. According to Mr. Vukašinović, twenty crew members have already been selected to undergo training. Air Serbia will soon open employment opportunities for 100 new cabin crew members. By the end of the year a further eight A319s will join the Air Serbia fleet. The aging Boeing 737-300s will be retired at the start of the 2013/14 winter season (which begins October 27). However, the aircraft will not be sold nor cut up and will remain in the ownership of the Serbian government. Etihad will launch talks with Airbus immediately following the takeover in order to renegotiate the order for eight A319s made by JAT Yugoslav Airlines in 1998.

✈ Dedicated terminal ✈
Eithad Airways and Air Serbia will use a dedicated terminal at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport from late October. Air Serbia will use Terminal 1 at Belgrade Airport in which Etihad will invest significant means in order to upgrade its facilities. The dedicated terminal will mean low cost airlines, which have so far used the building due to lower taxes, will have to move out.

✈ Investments ✈
Etihad Airways and the Serbian government have drafted four agreements which outline the investments which will be made by both the minority and majority shareholders of Air Serbia. The Serbian government will invest 100 million dollars into Air Serbia, mostly through writing off Jat Airways’ debt over the next three years. On the other hand, Etihad will invest 40 million dollars into Air Serbia in the next two weeks. A further 20 million dollars will be invested into Jat Catering and SU-PORT by 2016.

✈ New routes ✈
Air Serbia will launch fourteen new destinations this winter season. The airline plans to utilise its aircraft around the clock with flights departing both throughout the day and night. The airline is set to create two rush hours for its flights at Belgrade Airport – one in the morning and one just after midnight. The airline will be boosting frequencies on key routes and there will be several time changes compared to the existing timetable.

Finally, the Jat brand name will officially end its six decade long run today.

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