Igor Salinger/BELGRADE

JAT Yugoslav Airlines is rethinking its planned acquisition of Airbus A319s as it battles to recover its market and financial position.

The Yugoslav airline has indicated that it is to meet with Airbus to renegotiate the deal for up to eight A319s, which would be worth up to $400 million at list prices. JAT may be forced to seek cheaper solutions and the airline does not rule out a switch of supplier.

The airline originally selected the A319 in 1998, signing an agreement with Airbus for eight aircraft. Last December, JAT's chief executive and the general manager Mihajlo Vujinovic said that JAT would go ahead with the A319 purchase, but deliveries had been rescheduled to begin in 2002, two years later than initially planned.

At a press conference in Belgrade JAT, which is majority-owned by the Serbian Government, said that it had lost $1.5 to $2 billion in revenues due to long-term sanctions and the resulting isolation. It has $350 million in debts with problems compounded by its loss of market share and insufficient investment in its fleet. Experts believe JAT will need 10 years to restore its annual traffic levels to the three million passengers it carried in 1987, before the sanctions.

Meanwhile JAT has signed a protocol with local regional airline Montenegro Airlines to undertake co-operation. Montenegro says that this will mainly involve commercial ventures, such as joint reservations and sales systems.

Source: Flight International