BELGRADE (Serbia), November 27 (SeeNews) – Turkish Airlines has emerged as the most serious contender for a strategic partnership with Serbia’s troubled flag carrier JAT Airways, Serbian daily Vecernje Novosti reported on Friday.
“The Turkish company is interested in any form of strategic partnership – recapitalisation, acquisition, joint venture. All options are on the table and a decision could be taken by December 20,” Vecernje Novosti (www.novosti.rs) quoted JAT CEO Srdjan Radovanovic as saying.
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The final decision will rest with the government in Belgrade.
The managing board of Turkish Airlines is expected to take a decision by December 20 and once it does it will become clear if there is room for a strategic partnership, Radovanovic said.
Serbia is seeking a strategic partner or some other turnaround option for its loss-making flag carrier, Infrastructure Minister Milutin Mrkonjic said last month. The government in Belgrade has set up a working group to sort out the privatisation of the company.
Radovanovic also pointed out that the Turkish carrier is part of Star Alliance together with Germany’s Lufthansa and that Serbia is located half-way between Frankfurt and Istanbul.
Turkish Airlines envisages a partnership where it would not commit any cash but would help JAT expand its fleet instead, Belgrade-based broadcaster b92 (www.b92.net) reported on Tuesday, adding that Russia’s Aeroflot is also interested in this form of strategic partnership with JAT.
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.
A tender for the sale of 51% of JAT Airways at a call price of 51 million euro ($76 million) failed last year as no bidders turned up.