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Jat confirms fleet plans

Jat Airways has confirmed the lease of new aircraft for the 2013 summer season, after Serbian media finally broke their silence on the ongoing fleet crisis in the carrier. With half of its fleet grounded the airline has been forced to suspend services to Brussels until April 1 and has cut down on its frequencies to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna, Berlin and Milan. The airline says it will financially lease four Airbus A319 jets, with two arriving in April and the other two in May. According to fleet plans submitted to the task group in charge of restructuring the carrier, which EX-YU Aviation News exclusively revealed last Monday, it has been proposed for Jat to lease two ATR72-500s and two Airbus A319s for arrival in March, while a further two A320s would be leased in May.

The airline says part of its grounded fleet will soon take to the skies again. The Serbian carrier adds that some of its aircraft are on the ground because the government took its time in approving a ten million euro loan the airline intends to take out from the banks. The government gave Jat the green light to take out the loan in December, several months after it originally blocked the carrier from doing so. Jat says it will now use the money for spare parts for its aircraft. However, some of the grounded jets have been permanently taken out of service as the cost of maintaining them has become too expensive. Furthermore, one of the airline’s leased ATR72s is set to return to its owner.

Meanwhile, Jat Airways pilots have sent letters to the Serbian President, Prime Minister and first Deputy Prime Minister urging them to focus more on the carrier and its problems. In its letters the pilots criticise the Serbian Aviation Directorate and its policy of issuing licenses to other airlines without any legal basis. They note that Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines were issued licenses to launch flights to Serbia contrary to the bilateral air agreement the two countries have signed. The agreement, dating back from 1953, is set to be modified with Turkish officials arriving for talks in Belgrade today. Furthermore, the pilots criticised the decision to allow Wizz Air to base an aircraft in Belgrade without registering a company in Serbia. They say such policies have cost the Serbian carrier millions.

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