Serbia's finance minister is hopeful a memorandum of understanding could be agreed next month over a partnership which could see Etihad Airways invest in struggling carrier Jat Airways.
Finance minister Mladjan Dinkic was speaking after meeting Etihad officials today in Abu Dhabi, as part of trip in which the Abu Dhabi Development Fund approved a $400 million loan for the development of Serbian agriculture. He said they had talked about the strategic direction and future co-operation between Jat and Etihad.
"I am confident that Etihad will be the ideal partner for our national airline," he says in a statement. "We agreed that in mid-April, Etihad's management will come to Belgrade. They are already moving from the beginning of April, with a detailed analysis of business Jat.
"I believe that we already mid-April have good news and we will in the next two months to complete all agree on strategic partnership Jat and Etihad," he says. The partnership could include upgrading Jat's fleet and Etihad taking up to a 49% stake in the airline.
Etihad already has investments in Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Air Seychelles and Virgin Australia, and is carrying out due dilligence over a possible investment in Indian carrier Jet Airways.
In February the Serbian carrier outlined a restructuring plan which includes cutting nearly 50% of jobs and leasing four additional Airbus A320s.