Air Asia in talks to buy Serbia's JAT airways: report

Malaysian low-cost airline Air Asia is in talks with Belgrade to buy the Serbian national airline JAT, Transport Minister Milutin Mrkonjic told media Wednesday.

Mrkonjic refused to reveal details, but said he expected positive results from the ongoing negotiations, Tanjug news agency reported.

The Malaysian company, which plans to make Belgrade its regional hub for flights from Europe to the Far East via Kuala Lumpur, is expected to make its bid for the Serbian carrier by the end of the week, according to local media.

Following two failed attempts to sell JAT, the Serbian government made a public appeal for a strategic partnership to create a new national airline that would replace JAT.

That bid also failed however after the only potential partner, Latvia's Air Baltic, withdrew.

In 2011 JAT's losses were 3.19 billion dinars (27 million euros, $34 million), according to the Serbian business register. The total amount of the company's debt is estimated at about 300 million euros.

JAT has a fleet of 14 planes, 10 Boeing 737-300 and four ATRs 72-200, all of which are around 20 years old.


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