JAT wants to dump Airbus deal in favor of one with Boeing

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serb flag carrier JAT Airways said yesterday it planned to renew its fleet by buying from US plane-maker Boeing, despite a previous deal with Airbus, Boeing’s European rival. «Since the JAT fleet is aging and is mostly made up of Boeing planes, JAT and the American company have expressed readiness to jointly find a solution for JAT to get new planes in the shortest possible time and under the most favorable conditions,» a JAT statement said. Giving no details on the number of planes it wanted to buy or lease or how this would be financed, it said the two companies had taken into account JAT’s foreign debt and a disputed agreement with Airbus. General Manager Aleksandar Milutinovic had said earlier that JAT expected to change the accord it signed with Airbus during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic, who was ousted by reformers in 2000. Milosevic’s government signed a letter of intent in 1998 to purchase eight Airbus A-319 short-haul jets by 2005 for JAT, paying an initial sum of $23 million. «We want to reach a gentlemen’s agreement with Airbus,» a JAT spokeswoman told Reuters, giving no further details. JAT did not say how many planes or what type it wanted to buy. The airline noted that Boeing had identified the B-737-600, B-737-800, B-767-200 and B7E7 as its commercial airline models that would best suit JAT’s present fleet. JAT wants to restore its transatlantic flights.

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