Jat Airways (Belgrade) is no more. The national carrier of Serbia was succeeded by replacement carrier Air Serbia (Belgrade) yesterday (October 26). Air Serbia is the result of a new strategic partnership between the Government of Serbia and Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi). The majority 51 percent of the shares of new Air Serbia are now owned by the Serbian Government and the remaining 49 percent by Etihad Airways which has been on a spending spree to to partially acquire and transform underperforming national carriers to feed its own operations.
Jat Airways is now defunct.
Air Serbia’s inaugural flight departed Belgrade yesterday for Abu Dhabi.
Here is the history of troubled Jat Airways (from their website):
Jat Airways’s predecessor, the Society for Air Transport AEROPUT, was founded on June 17, 1927. This date marks the beginning of civil aviation in our country. The first aircraft to fly under the company name Yugoslav Airlines took off 20 years later, on April 1, 1947.
In mid-January 1947, the civil aviation traffic administration became part of the Transport Ministry, thereby confirming its civilian status. On March 17, 1947, pilots, navigators, radio operators and flight mechanics were transferred from the Transport Regiment to the newly formed company. In the meantime, the company acquired modified aircraft and the first flying season was launched on April 1, 1947.
After weathering the winds of war, AEROPUT pilots and mechanics joined Yugoslav Airlines crews in JAT’s earliest days.
Yugoslav Airlines kicked off with two Douglas C-47 aircraft modified into a DC-3 and two JU-52 Junkers. In the course of the year, the fleet grew by another JU-52, four DC-3s and one unmodified C-47 intended for cargo transport. These aircraft maintained regular traffic on domestic lines: Belgrade-Zagreb-Ljubljana and Zagreb-Sarajevo, and on international lines: Belgrade-Prague-Warsaw.
The first three Sud Aviation Caravelle airplanes joined the JAT fleet in 1963, and the fleet continued to grow six years later with the addition of the first Douglas DC-9, and seven years later with the first Boeing 707. At the same time, the last of the piston-engine veterans – the DC-3 and Convair – were withdrawn from the fleet. The introduction of jet engine aircraft enabled more comfortable and affordable flights – far exceeding the characteristics of piston engine aircraft. With increased capacity and range, these planes served as a basis for expanding the flight network, enabling the company to appear in third markets and make a bid for genuine air traffic growth. This was the main course of Yugoslav Airlines development through the early 1970s, a period tentatively termed by the company as “the beginning of jet aviation”.
Just as the beginning of the 1960s was decisive due to the introduction of the first jet-engine aircraft, so were the 1970s with the introduction of the “big Boeing” – the Boeing 707, after which the first charter lines were established to North America with regular traffic. In addition to the introduction of the Douglas DC-10-30, the first wide-body aircraft, in 1978, this period represented the beginning of one of the most important stages in JAT’s evolution.
Persistent investment in modernization and the acquisition of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 guided Yugoslav Airlines to yet another phase of development, the so-called wide-body stage, which was followed several years later by the purchase of a medium-range aircraft – the Boeing 737. This acquisition, among the first in Europe, established a basic pre-condition for further expansion of traffic in nearly all directions. Also, existing lines in Europe, the Middle East and Africa were significantly extended, followed by network expansion to the US, Canada and Australia.
During those “golden years”, as some JAT chroniclers have dubbed the period, Yugoslav Airlines opened many offices abroad, carried five million passengers annually, continued to develop and modernize its technical operations parallel to developing service activities such as general aviation, hotel commerce, operating its own training centre and investing in infrastructure. JAT also constructed a large hangar to accommodate wide-body aircraft and a jet-engine test stand, which enabled the company to master the technique of examining engines and other components for modern fleets. Furthermore, the company proved excellent in business skills, successfully negotiating contracts with several third world companies.
Meanwhile, JAT developed its information system and introduced automatic ticket sales. In short, the company made a bid to meet its competition by responding to the growing demands and expectations of its passengers while continuing to satisfy regular passengers by living up to the famous company slogan – JAT is MORE THAN FLYING.
Yugoslav Aerotransport changed its name to Jat Airways on August 8, 2003.
Top Copyright Photo: Rolf Wallner/AirlinersGallery.com. A fine taxiway study of Jat Airways’ Boeing 737-3Q4 YU-AON (msn 24208) in the last color scheme at Zurich. The Jat Airways Boeing 737-300s are being replaced with newer Air Serbia Airbus A319s, another narrow body customer loss for Boeing.
Bottom Copyright Photo: Greenwing/AirlinersGallery.com. Former TACA AIrbus A319-132 N473TA (msn 1140) has become A6-SAA on lease from Etihad Airways to Air Serbia.