| BELGRADE, March 26
BELGRADE, March 26 Serbia is considering ways to
make loss-making national carrier JAT Airways attractive to
investors, such as taking on its debt and paying for
redundancies, the prime minister said on Friday.
Mirko Cvetkovic told Reuters the current situation at JAT
was so dire that "not only will no one give you a single penny,
but you will have to pay someone to come in".
Serbia has long sought to find a buyer or partner for JAT
and, earlier this week, the government said it would launch a
tender next month to find a partner to revive JAT. [LDE62M1IU]
Cvetkovic said the plan under discussion was modelled after
that used recently to sell Greece's Olympic Airlines.
"This model basically is that you are creating a new core
and the new core is (taking over) the activity of the existing
company while the government takes care of the redundant workers
and the asset of the existing companies and obviously the
credit," he said.
"If we are paying, which we will probably have to do, then
why don't we start at the very beginning and (with) this payment
... resolve the inherited problems in the area of creditors and
Serbia, which is JAT's largest creditor, is seeking a
partner to take a 51 percent stake, although any carrier not
party to the open skies agreement could get a 49 percent stake
and Serbia would sell off another two percent to another firm to
retain only a minority stake, Cvetkovic said.
Earlier this month, JAT announced a 16.5 million euro ($22
million) loss for 2009. It said it planned to borrow 51.5
million to restructure and renew its ageing fleet and prepare
for a potential partnership with Turkish flag carrier Turkish
Airlines (THYAO.IS) which has not yet made any decisions.
Cvetkovic said Turkish Airlines was one of several potential
He also said on Friday that Serbia planned a September
auction of a stake in Telekom Srbija, the country's most
successful state-run firm, to invest in infrastructure.
(Editing by Dan Lalor)
($1 = 0.7502 euro)