Etihad and Serbia sign initial deal on investment in airline

Etihad Airways said on Monday it had signed an initial agreement with the Serbian government over a possible equity investment in the country's loss-making Jat Airways.

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Etihad Airways said yesterday it had signed an initial agreement with the Serbian government to explore an equity investment in the country's Jat Airways.

Etihad announced in April it would begin daily non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and Belgrade this week, with Jat Airways, placing its JU code on the new route, and to 21 destinations on the Etihad network. In return Etihad placed its EY code on 23 of Jat's European routes.

"As we have demonstrated with our minority equity investments in other airlines, significant on-going savings can be achieved through joint initiatives. These include pilot and crew training, fuel, insurance and procurement and maintenance agreements for common engine types," said James Hogan, the Etihad president and chief executive, said in a statement yesterday.

No value for the deal nor how much of a stake Etihad would take was given in the statement.

In March, the Serbian finance minister Mladjan Dinkic hinted at a deal during a visit to Abu Dhabi after it was announced that the UAE had approved a US$400 million loan to Serbia.

The Serbian finance ministry had suggested Etihad could take a 49 per cent stake in Jat, Reuters reported.