The acquisition of new planes for Air Serbia, announced by the national airline five years ago, seems to be scrapped, the Danas daily writes.
In 2013, when Etihad became its co-owner, Air Serbia announced the purchase of 10 new, state of the art A320NEO Airbus planes for up to one billion dollars.
The airliners were supposed to begin arriving in 2018, and replace all the older planes by 2020. Five years later that dream is gone. According to Danas, Air Serbia has quietly abandoned plans for fleet modernization.
Such outcome was expected, unfortunately. When the planes were ordered, Etihad was run by General Director James Hogan, whose grand vision for the future of this Middle Eastern company was based on the idea of merging with troubled airline companies in Europe and beyond – JAT Airways, Alitalia, Air Berlin, Darwin Airways…
That strategy collapsed, taking Hogan’s reputation and his position with it. The less said about the money wasted, the better.
Air Serbia is now the leftover of a failed strategy by an exiled director, which the new administration will most likely forget about. In such circumstances it would be unreasonable to believe that Etihad would pour hundreds of millions of euros into a Serbian company that it no longer needs.
Thus, the story of new planes, originally purchased as part of a larger order of 117 aircraft intended for companies from the whole Etihad system, has ended.
Had the airliners arrived, Air Serbia would have been the most advanced airline company in the region by far. Instead, the company today looks more like a low-cost than a national airline.
Air Serbia’s Press Service has been unavailable for comment on the subject of the purchase of A320NEO airliners since January.