JatAirways to be renamed and rebranded Air Serbia
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has unveiled plans to acquire 49 percent of JatAirways, the Serbian national airline. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier has also been awarded a five year management contract for the carrier.
These are two of the key components of a wide-ranging strategic partnership agreement, signed by Etihad Airways and the Government of Serbia, which includes a fleet of new aircraft, and a new integrated network of international destinations enabling greater access for business and leisure travelers to Serbia.
The historic agreement follows the launch of Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and Belgrade in June of this year and will significantly enhance trade and investment relations between the United Arab Emirates and Serbia, as well as helping to boost the tourism sector in both countries.
Economic ties between the two countries, valued at EUR 23.3 million in 2012, three times greater than in 2011, continue to expand with a number of key government agreements signed in recent months which will see investments in agriculture, defence, technology, and tourism.
The strategic partnership agreement was announced by James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, and Aleksandar Vucic, Deputy Prime Minister of the Serbian Government, at a recent media conference in Belgrade.
Within the terms of the agreement, Etihad Airways will make available a US$ 40 million loan facility which will be converted into equity on 1st January 2014, subject to regulatory approval. This will be matched by an equal funding injection by the Government of Serbia.
Etihad Airways and the Government of Serbia will also each provide further funding through shareholder loans and other funding mechanisms of up to US$ 60 million to meet working capital requirements and support network development for the newly created Air Serbia.
Among other planned developments will be an enhanced flight network, codesharing with Etihad Airways and airberlin, adding another 12 destinations in Africa, Europe and the Middle East to Air Serbia’s current network of 33 cities.
The new destinations are Abu Dhabi (complementing Etihad Airways’ daily service), as well as Banja Luka, Beirut, Bucharest, Budapest, Cairo, Kiev, Ljubljana, Prague, Sofia, Varna, and Warsaw.
Air Serbia will launch fights to Abu Dhabi from October 2013.
Air Serbia will become Etihad Airways’ sixth equity partner following investments in airberlin (29.21 percent), Air Seychelles (40 percent), Virgin Australia (10.5 percent), Aer Lingus (2.99 percent) and most recently Jet Airways (24 percent – awaiting regulatory approval confirmation).