JU101
Topic Author
Posts: 831
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2001 1:57 am

JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Fri Jan 14, 2005 11:03 pm

As of this morning, pilots in JAT have gone on a general strike. All outbound domestic and international flights are cancelled. Aircraft that are abroad will be repositioned to Belgrade in accordance to the regular flight schedule, and grounded thereafter.

The JAT pilots have a long list of demands, for which they have given the government ample warning. The list includes the payment of their wages for November and December, and the resignation of numerous directors that have not done much to simmer the on going problems between workers and management. This strike came nearly two months after the airline's Engineers and mechanics had a strike of their own, paralyzing operations for a few days.

The Serbian government is expected to respond with the possible appointments of new management.

Meanwhile, due to a recent engine fire on one ATR-72 as it was about to depart Belgrade, the fleet of regional aircraft has been grounded until the aircraft are re-check with the manufacturer. Since the grounding, JAT has re-introduced the Boeing 727 and additional DC-9's to fill the temporary void.
 
BEG2IAH
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RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Fri Jan 14, 2005 11:48 pm

And, as of this morning, the US Department of State imposed "partial" economic sanctions, so that JAT cannot resume flights to the US that were scheduled for June 2005. The reason - no cooperation of Serbian Government with the Hague War Crimes Tribunal. If this doesn't hurt the government nothing will. The same kind of cr*p we have seen so many times before. And Department of State wants to punish the government, and not the people... Yeah, right.

Four groups in JAT have very different interests:

(1 and 2) Mechanics and engineers want their wages to be a certain percentage of pilots' earnings. So after all the strikes they had last Summer and Fall, they signed an agreement (kind of weird contract) with JAT's management determining the ways wages are calculated (% of pilots' wages).

(3) Pilots refuse this agreement because they don't want anyone's wage to be pegged on their own's. In addition, JAT's management claims that pilots do not have a representative union (?!?), and that's why they were not even asked to consider the above mentioned agreement. Now pilots want the whole management ousted!

(4) Flight attendants also announced they would start their own strike on January 20, and they also want their salaries to be a certain percentage of pilot's wages.

If something really serious isn't done soon, JAT will go down the drain. It's a shame how people (government, management, and employees) can destroy 77 year long tradition of this, once upon a time, great company.

BEG2IAH
Aviation is not so much a profession as it is a disease.
 
JoKeR
Posts: 1761
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2004 12:34 pm

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sat Jan 15, 2005 12:25 am

The Government HAS to put this company out of its misery, fire everyone, sell the planes, sell the AOC and finally let somebody capable of running the Serbian airline business to do it.

Or;

Beef-up the real competition, allow Ryanair, easyJet and all the other carriers who want to fly to Belgrade but were prevented through JAT Management's gimmicks, to fly the people and let them travel without fear that they may actually be stuck somewhere 'cause someone is not happy with their terms of employment. I'd then really like to see if JAT employees would be as demanding when their business boards "the jets next door".

Serbia's most spoiled employees are again showing their disrespect for the very people who pay their wages - passengers. If they are not happy working for JAT, go, leave, resign...

Shocking!
Kafa, čaj, šraf?
 
JoKeR
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2004 12:34 pm

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sat Jan 15, 2005 12:27 am

imposed "partial" economic sanctions, so that JAT cannot resume flights to the US that were scheduled for June 2005. The reason - no cooperation of Serbian Government with the Hague War Crimes Tribunal. If this doesn't hurt the government nothing will. The same kind of cr*p we have seen so many times before. And Department of State wants to punish the government, and not the people... Yeah, right.

Yanks, Bush et all, kiss our a**
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JU101
Topic Author
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Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2001 1:57 am

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sat Jan 15, 2005 8:00 am

With regards to the staff in JAT, it is necessary to balance the salaries out in such a way that ensures a fair disparity between each profession. In my opinion it would be unacceptable for employees of one profession to receive a higher percentage increase in wages in comparison to another. At the same time I firmly believe that these disputes can be settled without strikes, since the company and passengers both lose. I am certain that JAT lost some valuable customers due to these strikes, and this should not be overlooked! However, the management will not escape without my strong criticism, since they did not do their job properly, by ensuring good relations with its employees.

With regards to the latest announcements from the United States government, it is their decision what comes in and out of their country. If I am not mistaken, according to the US embassy in Belgrade, no assistance will be provided to JAT, in relation to the planned resumption of flights to JFK in June. I wonder what exactly is that supposed to mean? In any event, it is up to the Serbian government as to what extent it is willing to cooperate with the Hague tribunal. In my opinion Serbia has done more than its fair share.

If Washington indeed wishes to keep JAT out of the United States because of an unrelated policy, then it is most certainly impeding with the virtue of democracy: the right to agree to disagree, and the free flow of thought, people, and goods. In this case, it's their loss as much as it is ours!
 
acvitale
Posts: 1911
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2001 8:25 am

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sat Jan 15, 2005 5:24 pm

How will this effect Ethiopian which had been using a JAT subservice DC-10 JU-AMB "City of Belgrade" that they had been flying on Haji routes, West Africa and Southern Africa routes.

I wondered why the aircraft was sitting in ADD at a gate but with absolutely no activity around it.

[Edited 2005-01-15 09:53:36]
 
JoKeR
Posts: 1761
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2004 12:34 pm

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sat Jan 15, 2005 7:22 pm

Activtale,

I doubt that this lease, as you say to ET, will be affected by the Belgrade strike. Pilots working on such contracts sign separate agreements and I'm almost positive that strikes are a big "no-no".

It appears as if some of the flights will operate again, JU 346 to Stuttgart may actually depart on time at 12:55 with the rest of international services to follow as normal, though Domestic services will remain grounded for now.

http://www.beg.aero is a good place to monitor all traffic to/from Belgrade Airport.
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JoKeR
Posts: 1761
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2004 12:34 pm

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sat Jan 15, 2005 7:30 pm

Aaaaaand I was wrong.... all cancelled  Confused

Anyone closer to the airport, please confirm that much larger aircraft have been deployed by foreign carriers into BEG yesterday and today, including A300s and 767s?
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gilesdavies
Posts: 2280
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2003 7:51 pm

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sat Jan 15, 2005 8:08 pm

"Since the grounding, JAT has re-introduced the Boeing 727 and additional DC-9's to fill the temporary void."

Are these things safe to fly?!

I flew on both types in the 80's when they did UK charters to pring tourists to DBV, SPU and PUY. Back then they looked worn out, the cockpits were a mess with glass cracked on the dials, and cables hanging out of the facia of the cockpit.

It was an experience with the JAT Cabin Crew, back then they were the 80's equavalent to Ryanair and you was thought lucky if you had a delay of less than 2hrs. Amount of times we were stuck at LTN back then when I was a kid due to their aircraft going tech.
 
JoKeR
Posts: 1761
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2004 12:34 pm

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sat Jan 15, 2005 10:15 pm

JAT to LTN? Nope, maybe AGX, JAT only flew to LHR, while charters went to either to LGW and very occasionally to STN.

In the '80s, JAT 727s very barely a few years old hence no way that they were in the state you are mentioning, trust me, flew on the entire 722 fleet during the mid and late '80s and never saw any cockpits in the state you just mentioned.
Kafa, čaj, šraf?
 
JU101
Topic Author
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Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2001 1:57 am

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 6:17 am

Gilesdavies,

I really have a hard time understanding your question, and almost take it as an insult that you would question the safety these aircraft. Had these aircraft not been air-worthy, JAT would not be flying them.

JoKeR,

It looks like the strike is holding strong. The flight attends may join the strike soon. Its no doubt that this strike will be very costly for the airline.
 
OHLHD
Posts: 2903
Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 6:02 am

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:26 pm

How is their finacial situation anyway?

If they strike for long, we can most likely see the next bankrupt airline.
 
dc863
Posts: 1466
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 1999 10:52 am

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 2:31 pm

I flew JAT in November from BEG-CDG on a JAT 737-400. I suppose that particular aircraft was either an ex BA or US Airways 737. Service was good considering the load factor was nearly 100%. I saw a DC-9-32 taxi into the adjacent gate, it like most of JAT's fleet was all white. Loved the sound of the JT8s! Hopefully with new management JAT will have a new livery, anything but the Flying Circus colors.
 
Aleksandar
Posts: 2941
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2000 11:43 pm

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:00 pm

Interesting piece of information is that all pilots were given doctor's notice that states how unable they are to fly! Well, that should make things less complicated. If they are unable to fly, why don't they simply take a leave until they get better? How bad is their condition? If they are really in such a bad condition they should be grounded for good. There are lots of unemplyed pilots ready to jump in their places. I bet all Aviogenex pilots would be more than happy to fly for JAT for such salaries and they would also be closer to their families and not in Africa or Cambodia!

This strike made me REALLY angry!!! Salaries of JAT's pilots are way above the average salary in Serbia and it isn't enough! I believe that comparison would not be fair if JAT is an independent airline that has nothing to do with country's budget but it is not the case. So, what do they want? Money they did not earn? At any price? How? Maybe the government should simply stop subsidising expensive drugs, or maybe they should cut heating in hospitals, nursing homes, schools. Why not, everything for JAT's "sacred cows".

JoKeR:
It is very possible that JAT flew to LTN in 1980s. They also flew charters. Take a look at photos of 727 and you'll see that many were taken at MAN, GLA and LGW.

Gilesdavies:
Unfortunately, you are right. At that time JAT was also known as "joke about time" and very often FA were very rude and arrogant.

OHLHD:
It's a million dollar question. While preparing the article on JAT for "Airline Review" in 2003, I simply couldn't find their annual report. The only one was from 2000/1 and it was a joke that showed not a single information on money spent or earned.

Aleksandar
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
 
JU101
Topic Author
Posts: 831
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RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 2:52 am

OHLHD,

I think the financial situation in JAT is fairly stable. Their results from the past three years were by no means impressive, but they apparently managed to turn out a very minimal profit each year. The unfortunate thing is that the airline most likely made some handsome profits, but due to corruption, this is of course is never properly documented. Serbia has a long route to travel until it is able to weed out large scale corruption in it's state-run companies. The most significant problem in the Serbian economic and political model is the fact that the government appoints members from ruling political parties to head these companies. Many of these politicians have some form of education and qualification, however, this notion presents a huge opportunity cost when qualified experts (from within the companies) do not call the shots.

Within the last 4 years, JAT has gone through three separate management changes. One must recognize that every time a management change is made, the new director must impose himself/herself in the company by making different abstract decisions, thus leading the company (possibly) in a different direction. My best example of differences in management is the contrast between Vujovic and Milutinovic. Vujovic had the vision ascertaining JAT as a feeder to western carriers, renewed part of the fleet, attempted to divide the company (by forming a separate regional airline), but disappointed aviation enthusiasts when he adopted a new visual identity for the carrier. In the meantime, Milutinovic has changed the strategy into the vision of resuming transatlantic flights with leased 767's, attempting to accelerate the acquisition of new aircraft (Boeing 737 and Embaer 170), and revamping the visual identity. In principle I am supportive of the visions of Mr. Milutinovic, however, his poor relations with the employees does not make things easy. Perhaps Milutinovic came at the wrong time, since many of the union contracts expired last year.

At this point, probably the best thing for JAT would be to go into privatization, and introduce more competition for the airline market in Serbia in addition to competition between employees within the airline itself.
 
JoKeR
Posts: 1761
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2004 12:34 pm

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 4:50 am

JU101,

Good summary of JAT's two top men (past and present). The biggest difference between the two is the fact that Mr Vujovic has many years in the airline business unlike the current chief, Mr Milutinovic. This fact was/is very evident in that during Mr Vujovic's time, JAT had a far more solid and realistic plan than the one that has been floated with Mr Milutinovic's mandate. Mr Vujovic more realistically saw the real capabilities of JAT, he managed to make a lot of improvements in bring the airline back up again from its dormant period of the '90s, and adopted a slow but steady growth plan for the carrier, starting by eliminating the many obsolete and funds-draining departments and companies, streamlining the work force, refreshing the fleet with newer aircraft... Than comes Mr. Milutinovic and decides to "abandon the foundations and goes straight for the roof". C'mon, 767s? Flights to America and the Far East? Now?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a pessimist, rather a realist. How in the world can a small airline like JAT, with liabilities spanning more than USD 500 mill. even think of going long-haul and fighting with the "big dogs" before it "cleans house".

No disrespect to anyone but, JAT's crew look like an old-age home going on holiday, the planes are unpainted and tacky, the fleet is old in comparison to our neighboring carriers albeit in very good technical shape thanks to JAT Engineering, the work practices are still borne from the communist past, and I could go on and on.

At best, JAT should come to terms with a fact that it is no longer the national carrier of 25 million people. It should understand that its past glory is exactly that, the past! I am confident that Mr Vujovic's plan would have brought JAT far more closer to Europe and its standards even as a feeder carrier for a while. I'm not saying don't grow into a intercontinental carrier again, but start over, start again, start new and small, then watch it grow and watch it shine in the future, again, far brighter than ever before!
Kafa, čaj, šraf?
 
JU101
Topic Author
Posts: 831
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2001 1:57 am

RE: JAT Pilots Go On Strike!

Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:38 am

JoKeR,

In principle I have to agree with most of the things you said. I think that Vujovic was an innovative character, and had a very difficult job in trimming expenditures while improving service, public relations, modernizing the fleet, and bringing new technologies to the company. He had a rational plan, however, I totally disapproved of his idea of Intair Link. I think that he could have transformed JAT Airways into two divisions instead: low-cost and conventional air service. In this case, JAT could carry out low-cost flights to alternative destinations within its network instead of just on the regional level. In any event, Vujovic is a qualified individual, and came to the head of JAT because of his experience in the industry (with Lufthansa), rather than his political affiliations with politics.

Where you and I differ is the rationality of JAT resuming flights to North America, nonetheless because of the recent indications from Washington, such a dream will not be realized anytime soon. Nevertheless, I must credit Milutinovic for taking initiative on this matter.

Another positive step forward was the recent arrangement between JAT and a company in the UAE of finding a willing buyer for the original Airbus 319 contract signed in 1998.

With regards to acquiring new aircraft, the most appealing to me would be the possibility of JAT flying the Embaer 170. The aircraft is ideal for regional flights in addition to the fact that it is an excellent supplement to lower yielding routes that are flown with 737's. Such an aircraft can also improve flight frequency on other routes, thus promoting the possibility for more transit passengers going through Belgrade.

With regards to the JAT debt, I believe that the figure is around 300 million USD.

In any event, while we talk about truly constructive issues, these moronic unions are destroying a company with so much history, tradition, and prospects for the future.

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