Etihad says considering stake in Serbia’s Jat Airways

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Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said on Monday it has signed an initial memorandum of understanding with Serbia to discuss acquiring a stake in Belgrade’s loss-making Jat Airways.

The agreement was reached in Belgrade on Monday between Etihad’s chief James Hogan and Jat Airways chief executive Velibor Vukasinovic, Etihad said in a statement.

“An investment decision would depend on the successful completion of a comprehensive due diligence process and be subject to all necessary regulatory and respective board approvals,” it said.

Hogan was quoted as saying in the statement that the talks between his fast-growing Gulf carrier and the Serbian government were still in their “early days.”

In September, Malaysian low-cost carrier Air Asia was said to be in talks with Belgrade to buy JAT.

Following two failed attempts to sell Jat, Belgrade issued a public appeal for a strategic partnership to create a new national airline that would replace the carrier.

That bid also failed, however, after the withdrawal of the only potential partner, Latvia’s Air Baltic.

Jat has a fleet of 14 planes, 10 Boeing 737-300 and four ATR 72-200s, all of which are around 20 years old.

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