JAT Yugoslav Airlines is to be privatised gradually, beginning with subsidiary operations JAT Agricultural Aviation, JAT Catering and JAT Hotels, according to new general manager and chief executive Predrag Vujovic.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his appointment last month, Vujovic says other parts of JAT, including airline operations, need at least two years of investment and re-organisation before they can be sold on.

The airline is in the final stages of reassessing a long-standing deal to purchase new Airbus A320-family aircraft. A decision will be made within "four to five weeks", with number and type dependent on market conditions. Originally the contract was for eight A319s.


JAT is beginning to recover from the sanctions imposed on Belgrade. In the nine months to September, it reported losses of around $2 million. Traffic rose 15% to 950,000 compared with last year, but load factors stayed low at 60%. Poor domestic performance was the prime cause of the losses though Vujovic says fuel costs, which are rising locally despite falls on world markets, also took their toll.

The airline has huge debts dating back to before the collapse of Yugoslavia - $208 million from fleet purchases and $90 million in unpaid interest. The Serbian and Yugoslav Governments are seeking to resolve the issue, negotiating with creditors and banks.

JAT owns 30 passenger aircraft, a mix of Boeing 727s, 737s, and McDonnell Douglas DC-9s and-10s, of which 10 are in storage or being overhauled and 10 out on wet lease. JAT Agricultural Aviation operates 11 Antonov An-2s, a Grumman G164 Ag-Cat and 14 PZL M-18 Dromaders.

Source: Flight International