JAT to Reconsider Airbus Deal, Looks for Cheaper Craft
BELGRADE, Feb 16, 2001 -- (Reuters) Yugoslavia's flagship carrier Jugoslovenski Aerotransport (JAT) said on Thursday it would be forced to reconsider its deal with Europe's Airbus Industrie [ARBU.UL] on a purchase of eight aircraft for financial reasons.
"We have to start serious talks with Airbus," said JAT's development manager Miodrag Markovic, adding that JAT could be forced to look for cheaper solutions.
"We can remain by the agreement but it will certainly have to be redefined. But JAT will have to go either with fewer planes or with a smaller type of planes," he said.
Asked if JAT could drop its Airbus contract for another aircraft supplier, Markovic said: "Such a possibility exists. But it is not only up to JAT to decide, but the government. The decision will depend taking state interests into account."
Airbus representatives are due in Belgrade for talks later this month. Any decision to renegotiate the agreement would have to be made by the Serbian government, the owner of JAT.
In March 1998, JAT signed a letter of intent with Airbus Industrie on a purchase of eight A-319s by 2005. The implementation of the contract was postponed over international sanctions and NATO's 1999 air war against
Markovic said the situation now was different from the one when the deal was signed and that it was too costly for JAT anyway. He said JAT could change its mind and instead buy a smaller A318 aircraft.
Markovic said JAT did not need new planes right away and that its present fleet was meeting demands for its European, Mediterranean and transatlantic flights.
JAT currently has 19 operational planes from a fleet of 30 and three more would soon be ready to fly, Markovic said.
Last December, JAT's general manager Mihailo Vujinovic said the company would go ahead with its Airbus deal.
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Finally, a piece of really good news. The A-319 is compleatly wrong for them. For the job that the A-319 does, JAT already has an aircraft, it is called the B737-300. JAT does not need anything larger than this, they can't even fill it all the time. So, the only way to go is with an AC with lower capacity. If they must go with Airbus then they should get the A-318, the replacement for their DC-9's. The best solution would be to get the B717. It would be the perfect AC for the routes where they can't fill the 737. I hope they revise their choice and make an educated decision without political preassure.
What do you think?