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Nov 05, 2007 13:08 EEST
BANJA LUKA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), November 5 (SeeNews) - Serbia's flag carrier JAT Airways will start regular flights from Belgrade to the Bosnian city of Banja Luka on November 9, it said on Monday.
“There will be three flights a week from Belgrade to Banja Luka – on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays in the evening, and the return flights from Banja Luka to Belgrade will be on Thursdays, Saturdays and Mondays in the morning,” Zeljka Stojanovic, a public relations officer at JAT Airways, told SeeNews.
She said the return flights were scheduled for the mornings so that passengers from Bosnia’s Serb Republic, whose administrative centre Banja Luka is, could more conveniently change flights in Belgrade for other destinations in Europe. The Serb Republic is one of the two autonomous parts of war-divided Bosnia. The other is the Muslim-Croat Federation.
“The flight to Banja Luka will last 35 minutes and will cost 45 euro ($65) in one direction, while the return ticket will cost 79 euro, airport taxes excluded,” Stojanovic said.
She added the company was considering increasing the number of weekly flights to four if passenger traffic did well, but did not elaborate.
JAT Airways currently has regular daily flights from Belgrade to Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo in the evenings, and return flights to Belgrade in the mornings.
JAT, which is slated for privatisation, reported last month a 9.0% annual rise in passenger numbers to 1,044,290 in the first nine months of 2007. Cargo traffic from January to September, however, dropped 7.0% year-on-year to 7,841 tonnes, the company said earlier.
Serbia's government approved in July a plan for the privatisation of JAT Airways but decided to retain the ownership of the Belgrade Airport. In August the government's asset-selling agency invited 24 international consultants with expertise in air transportation to bid as advisors in the flag carrier's privatisation, and last month ranked first a consortium led by Rothschild & Cie.
Russian carrier Aeroflot, Air India and Iceland Air have shown interest in taking part in the privatisation, JAT Airways director general Nebojsa Starcevic said earlier. No timeframe for the privatisation has been set yet but it is expected to take place in the next two years.
JAT Airways has a fleet of 14 aircraft whose average age is 20 years. Once among the most profitable airlines in southeastern Europe, JAT saw its fortunes plunge amid the wars and economic sanctions that followed the break-up of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
($ = 0.6909 euro)
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