Serbs in Talks With Airbus to Lease Four Planes, Ministry Says

Serbia and the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., the parent of Airbus SAS, are in talks on the lease of four aircraft as national carrier JAT Airways AD revamps its fleet.

Serbia is looking for a “newer generation of aircraft,” the Serbian Transportation Ministry in Belgrade said in an e-mailed statement. “Talks have begun with Airbus on firming up the lease of four aircraft” to upgrade the fleet. It gave no further details.

The government said Nov. 6 it wants to buy four 180-passenger aircraft and lease eight more planes for JAT. Prime Minister Ivica Dacic is expected to hold talks on the purchase next month when he travels to Paris for an official visit to meet French Premier Jean-Marc Ayrault, according to the statement.

Serbia made an advance payment of about $23.5 million to Airbus more than a decade ago for a purchase of eight planes before canceling the order. The government wants to include that amount in talks for the new planes with Toulouse, France-based Airbus.

The Balkan country is considering selling JAT to Etihad Airways PJSC, the third-biggest Gulf airline, Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic said Oct. 22.

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