BELGRADE, April 10 (Reuters) - Serbia's JAT Airways will
meet a delegation from Etihad Airways next week, a Serbian
government official said on Wednesday, raising speculation the
Abu Dhabi-based carrier could take a 49 percent stake in the
Serbia has been trying without success to offload the
airline for years and Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic said last
month that Etihad was interested in a long-term partnership in
which the expanding Gulf airline would take a 49 percent stake.
"The Etihad delegation will meet with their counterparts
from JAT and they will then have a joint press conference to
announce some hopefully good news," said a government official
who asked not to be named.
The Serbian government said last month it was ready to take
on 170 million euros ($218.6 million) of JAT debt, pay leases
for six new aircraft from EADS's Airbus and secure
severance payments for redundant workers.
JAT currently operates 10 ageing Boeing 737-300s and
four ATR 72-200 turboprop aircraft on 30
routes within Europe and to the Middle East.
With Europe in economic crisis, Serbia is looking east for
It has secured a $400 million sovereign loan from Abu Dhabi
for agriculture investment and agreed more than $400 million in
investment by the Al Dahra agricultural firm based in the
($1 = 0.7777 euros)
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)