JAT Yugoslav Airlines is aiming to have around around half of its operational fleet on lease to other carriers this year. The airline is undertaking a major refurbishment of its aircraft, and may return more to service to meet leasing demand.

Ten of the airliners JAT holds in an airworthy condition are expected to be placed with other airlines on wet or ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) leases. Target markets are primarily regions where the latest noise legislation is not enforced, such as Africa, and where JAT's non-hushkitted Boeing 727-200s and McDonnell Douglas DC-9s can fly.

Goran Crljen, JAT's director operations, fleet and services marketing, says talks are taking place to lease Boeing 727-200s and 737-300s to operators in Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania and Tunisia, as well as one 737 to be "based in Budapest". In Europe, one of two JAT ATR 72s fly for Air Srpska while MAT Macedonian Airlines is operating two Boeing 737-300s and two Stage 3 hush-kitted DC-9-30s.

Nigerian operator Bellview is leasing two DC-9-30s for a third year in a deal that has netted the Yugoslav carrier $14.5 million over 28 months. Another DC-9 is already in service with fellow Nigerian carrier Sosoliso Airlines, which started operations last year using a 727-200 also leased from JAT. Crljen says that Nigerian operators have requested more DC-9s.

However, with no more aircraft readily available, JAT is considering returning to service some DC-9s which are stored in Belgrade.

The airline is also in discussions about placing its McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 on an initial four-month ACMI lease with Nigeria Airways to operate on Lagos-London-New York flights. Company sources also say that Mongolian start-up Justice has shown interest in Boeing 737 and ATR aircraft.

Ahead of the planned fleet renewal with Airbus narrowbodies, JAT is gradually upgrading its fleet. One DC-9 has already been completely refurbished, and the materials for two more DC-9s and the whole 737-300 fleet was purchased recently.

Work on the DC-9s is about to start at JAT's technical department in Belgrade.

Source: Flight International