Serbia to Step Up Talks With Airbus on Aircraft Deal

Serbia will step up talks with Airbus SAS (EAD) on an agreement to purchase and lease aircraft as it tries to rebrand its ailing airline JAT Airways.

The government wants to buy four 180-passenger A230 aircraft and lease eight more planes for a new, debt-free JAT, the Belgrade-based Finance Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

“Talks will be stepped up in the coming period” and “should be completed by spring when the new JAT will be established,” the ministry said. Earlier today, Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic met with Airbus representatives. JAT Tehnika, the state-run airline’s former maintenance unit, could be included to service Airbus jets.

Serbia made an advance payment of about $23.5 million to Airbus more than a decade ago for a purchase of eight planes and later canceled the order. The government is now seeking to include the amount in talks with Toulouse, France-based Airbus.

The Balkan country may offer JAT to the third-biggest Gulf airline Etihad Airways PJSC, Dinkic said on Oct. 22.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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