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Nov 24, 2009 18:04 EEST
BELGRADE (Serbia), November 24 (SeeNews) – Turkish Airlines and Russia's Aeroflot are interested in a strategic partnership with Serbia’s troubled flag carrier JAT Airways, Belgrade-based broadcaster b92 reported on Tuesday.
Instead of reaching into their pockets, the two airlines envisage a partnership where they will help JAT expand its fleet, b92 (www.b92.net) quoted unnamed sources as saying.
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The partnership would be modelled after the format employed by Turkish Airlines in a deal for a 49% stake in the air carrier of Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat Federation, BH Airlines, signed in late 2008, b92 said.
Under the terms of the deal, the Turkish company undertook to invest 5.0 million euro ($7.5 million) in leasing a Boeing 737 aircraft for the BH Airlines fleet as well as secure a second aircraft later on.
Jat Airways currently owns 16 aircraft for the transport of passengers and cargo on domestic and international lines: ten Boeing 737-300s, one Boeing 737-400 and five ATR 72-200s, according to data from the carrier's website (www.jat.com).
In April, local media reported that the average age of the fleet is 20 years.
On Monday, Belgrade-based daily Blic (www.blic.rs) reported that Greece's Marfin Investment Group (MIG) was interested in buying JAT Airways.
Serbia is seeking a strategic partner or some other turnaround option for loss-making JAT Airways, Infrastructure Minister Milutin Mrkonjic said last month.
The government in Belgrade has set up a working group to sort out the privatisation of the flag carrier.
A tender for the sale of 51% of JAT Airways at a call price of 51 million euro failed last year as no bidders turned up. The Serbian government has said JAT will remain state-owned until the company can attract a financially sound bid.
JAT Airways, which aims to turn to profit in 2011, posted an 18.7% annual drop in the number of passengers it carried through September to 744,300, the Association of European Airlines said earlier this month.
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