2010 will, by all accounts, be a revolutionary year in Serbian aviation. Not only will the country liberate its sky but Serbian citizens ill be able to travel without visas to the European Union from January 1 and low cost airlines are announcing their arrival. All of this could hurt Jat, but the airline’s CEO is more than optimistic about the upcoming year.
Jat’s fleet plans are of most interest to readers. The airline will have all 16 of its aircraft in operation by the end of 2010. Jat will fix the current handful of grounded aircraft while those leased to Air Ivoire of the Ivory Coast will all be returned by the summer season. In March, Jat will finally lease a Boeing B737-700 which will be used on services to the Middle East and will cut the stop over on route to Abu Dhabi (which is operated via Larnaca). The aircraft will make its debut in Jat’s 2010 summer season timetable. The airline will also lease another Boeing B737-400 which will be used on services to London, Paris, Moscow and summer charter destinations. Jat currently has 4 Boeing B737-300s with the new look economy class seats and the economy class upgrades will continue throughout 2010. No new aircraft will be purchased in 2010 because Jat does not have the finances. The long term lease of the B737-700 will be financed thanks to the government’s 40 million Euro cash injection.
Jat has confirmed that it will launch its Macedonian subsidiary, Aeromak, by March 2010. All plans are in place for promotional flights to be conducted early next year. Jat is waiting for MAT to officially declare bankruptcy. Radovanović also said that in the latter half of 2010 the airline will focus on Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as it is a potential focus city for Jat as plans to launch a Banja Luka based airline, Sky Srpska, has been put on definite hold.
Passengers have also been given some good news. Starting January 1, 2010 all passengers flying with Jat from Belgrade in any cabin class will have the opportunity to use the airline’s complimentary taxi service, which will drive passengers to the airport. For all Serbian citizens travelling to any destination within the European Union, Jat will provide free travel insurance, granted they have a return ticket with Jat. The airline will also reduce its prices so that the average ticket price amounts to 100 Euros, starting from the 2010 summer season.
During 2010 Jat is expected to introduce new destinations. In return for Croatia Airlines’ new service from Zagreb to Belgrade (which you can read more about on Sunday), Jat will receive an all year round permit for flights to Pula and Dubrovnik. The airline plans to introduce a new destination in the Middle East and is holding talks with Portorož Airport management about a possible seasonal summer relaunch.
The airline will join one of the world’s 3 major alliances by the end of 2011. Skyteam is the front runner with recent negotiations held with its main member Air France. Lufthansa has been less than happy with Jat CEO’s recent announcements about joining Skyteam, so Star Alliance and One World are still on the table.
A new advertising campaign will be launched in late December this year within Serbia. Jat has no plans on changing its name or logo. On Wednesday, Radovanović named a new management team, replacing the old squad led by former CEO Saša Vlaisavljević who has lost his job at Jat after he was dumped from the airline’s board of directors. Most of the new positions have been filled by long time Jat employees.
Srdjan Radovanović suggests that all of these plans are already in preparation. He expects a major shift in the attitude towards Jat from April 2010. He also said that on board customer service will be greatly improved while Serbian citizens will be greatly disappointed when they realise that low cost airlines are not all that dreamy as the Serbian media has painted them.
In a bid for cash the airline will sell its agricultural aviation secotr and medicinal aviation secotor. Jat also hopes to create a new technical division although talks will be held with the government regarding this proposal.
Do you think 2010 will be Jat’s year of recovery? Send a comment with your thoughts.