* Serbia wants to lease 12 new planes from Airbus - finmin
* Serbia considers partnership in new airline with Etihad
BELGRADE Oct 22 Serbia is looking at the idea
of carving a new airline out of the loss-making JAT Airways
business, with the government to help with the leasing of new
aircraft from EADS's Airbus, Finance Minister
Mladjan Dinkic told local newspaper Blic.
Government guarantees would back the new leases but a
rejuvenated airline could then link up with another carrier,
such as the fast expanding United Arab Emirates state-run
airline Etihad, Dinkic said in the paper on Monday.
"We have plans to ... lease 12 new aircraft from Airbus and
that new company would receive $140 million-worth of sovereign
guarantees for that," Dinkic was quoted as saying.
But he also said that during a recent official visit to
Dubai an idea emerged that Serbia could offer a stake in a
reformed airline to Etihad, which could then take over the lease
"This (teaming up with Etihad) is still an idea, but the
making of the new JAT and the renewal of its fleet are definite
government decisions," he was quoted as saying.
In March JAT, which operates 14 ageing aircraft, secured
government guarantees of 10 million euros ($12.56 million) for a
loan to cover short-term liabilities and a year earlier it
borrowed 51.5 million euros from the government to help renew
Serbia, struggling with a budget deficit projected at 6.2
percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and public debt seen
rising to 60 percent of GDP this year, has long wanted to sell
JAT, which last year made a loss of 3.2 billion dinar (27
Two years ago a deal to sell JAT to Turkish Airways
and Latvia's Baltic Aviation Systems failed to
materialise and an auction in 2008 collapsed due to lack of
Last month Serbian officials said Belgrade was negotiating
to sell the airline to AirAsia but the Malaysian
company denied that it was interested.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Greg Mahlich;