Air Serbia has ended its co-operation agreement with Greek carrier Marathon Airlines in the wake of a serious accident involving a departing Embraer 195 at Belgrade.

The Serbian carrier is not waiting for the findings of an investigation into the 18 February accident, in which the twinjet sustained serious fuselage damage on take-off while operating flight JU324 to Dusseldorf.

Air Serbia says it contacted the Serbian civil aviation directorate and the transport accident investigation centre immediately after the occurrence.

It adds that it is not disclosing any details of the event while the investigation is in progress.

But the carrier states that, “regardless of the results” of the inquiry, it has informed Marathon Airlines about termination of their co-operation pact, and no Air Serbia flights will be operated by the Greek airline’s aircraft from 21 February.

“Flights that should have been operated by Marathon Airlines will now be operated by other aircraft in the fleet to maintain traffic continuity,” it adds.

Marathon Embraer Air Serbia-c-Marathon Airlines

Source: Marathon Airlines

Marathon had been operating several E-Jets under wet-lease for Air Serbia

Air Serbia had been co-operating with Marathon Airlines, through a wet-lease agreement, since June last year. Marathon was flying Embraer E-Jets under the partnership.

The precise circumstances of the accident have yet to be clarified but the damage to the jet is consistent with widespread reports by Serbian media that the aircraft struck a runway lighting mast or ILS antenna as it took off from runway 30L.

“Passenger and crew safety is of the utmost priority for Air Serbia and the Serbian national airline is in full co-operation with the [investigating] authorities,” says Air Serbia.

Although the aircraft was operated by a partner carrier, and landed safely with no injuries to the 106 passengers, the airline says it is “fully aware of the passengers’ feelings during the flight” and “deeply regrets the discomfort they faced”.

It has apologised to those on board for the “inconvenience they experienced”.

The carrier says that, while it is terminating the Marathon agreement, it will consider taking “further steps” so that the occurrence “does not affect the trust of its passengers”.

It has not elaborated on the possible nature of these additional measures.