The story of JAT Airways - From power to bankruptcy

The Story of Jat Airways


Whenever I write or say Jat Airways, people think of the doomed indian airline Jet airways. This is because Jat Airways is an airline part of history. Its remains still up to this date, with the more known - Air Serbia.

So, what exactly happened to JAT airways, and what went wrong?


Jat Airways was one of the largest and most powerful airlines in history. During the times of Yugoslavia, the first airline was created under the name Aeroput. In fact, Aeroput was made in the 1920’s, specifically 1927! Its first flight was from Belgrade to Graz In Austria. Its aircraft were Lockheed Model 10 electra’s, where they were used throughout the times until the devastating Second World War. Aeroput then acquired one of the most successful aircraft in history, the Douglas C-47 skytrain. They also operated 3 junkers Ju-52 that were passenger-converted. After several years of new routes, additional aircraft and more successful profits, the airline was then renamed to Jugoslovenski Aerotransport (JAT) on the first April of 1947.


(Jugoslovenski Aerotranpsort Ju-53) Credits


Upon entering the Jet age, Jat Airways received their first Sud Aviation Caravelle (I’ve personally seen this same exact aircraft and it is in a museum in Belgrade) in 1963. 6 years after, the got their first McDonell Douglas DC-9 aircraft, and later in 1974 they received Boeing 707’s, followed by the Boeing 727 in 1974, and later the DC-10 in 1971. Jat Airways, despite the political tensions between the US and Yugoslavia bought American aircraft because they were deemed the best and more fuel efficient at the time, using state-of-the-art engines and luxury cabins including business class, and wider seats then ever. At this point, Jat Airways became one of the leading airlines in the European airline industry because of the sheer number of aircraft and routes they had.


(Jat Airways Caravelle SE 210) My picture


In the 1970’s after receiving their Boeing 727’s and DC-10’s, they used these aircraft for flights to America - (Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York), Australia, (Melbourne, Perth, Sydney) and Asia (Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Dubai, Kolkata and more). Jat Airways had rapidly expanded their route networks through the 1970’s and 1980’s, and had more routes than any other southeast European airline at the time. In the 1970’s, flights to Karachi, Sydney and Singapore were established. Through the years, more flights to Malta, Jordan, Germany, America and Asia were added.


(Jat Airways DC-10 landing at KLAX) credits


During the NATO bombing of 1999, Jat Airways was forced to temporarily suspend operations as Belgrade Airport closed. Their Aircraft were scrambled for shelter in Bulgaria, and other countries. After the political sanctions were lifted, Yugoslavia has started to slowly break up, with Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia becoming independent, and Yugoslavia turning into Serbia and Montenegro. JAT Yugoslav Airlines was once again then renamed to just Jat Airways. At this time JAT had started to struggle without having as many bases as they used to, with so many aircraft where a single few airports couldn’t handle. They begun selling their aircraft, with the last DC-10 being sold in June of 2015 to a French-based TAT industries. In this year, JAT also phased out all of their remaining DC-9’s and B727’s.

Following years of struggling to financially survive, they celebrated their 80th birthday of services on the 17th June 2007. A year after, the airline received an award as one of the 5 best brands from Serbia.

After 2007 is the time when Jat Airways had really started to struggle. They were losing profits, so the decision to privatize the airline was made by the government. Unfortunately after 2 attempts to do so, they failed as no one had agreed to take over the airline. In 2008, yet anther attempt was made by thus decreasing stakes to 51% but no-one still agreed. Jat Airways’s management team then went to Abu Dhabi to make a proposal to Etihad Airways to take a stake in Jat as an effort to survive. Etihad agreed, and took a 49% stake in the airline somewhere in 2013. On August 1st, Jat airways had officially been renamed to Air Serbia, Operating ATR and Airbus aircraft.


(Air Serbia A319 at Belgrade) Credits


Jat Airways itself was a large chunk of history in balkan aviation. Being a native Serbian I was absolutely fascinated by an airline that we used to have. I had no idea that they operated B727’s! I’m a little sad that unfortunately Air Serbia does not operate such a wide array of aircraft, but It is always interesting to read such stories of successful airlines that were unfortunately struggling due to political issues in the region.


This took me almost 2 hours to make, and I’m really excited to share this with the community. I’m looking forward to your opinions on Jat Airways!

Thanks for looking, see you around!

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Looks like a pretty good history lesson. You gave interesting information, I didn’t knew they flew to Australia😂. Thanks for sharing :)

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@BravoCharlie Thanks for the great insight. This airline will always have my utmost respect

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Thanks @NeperQiell and @Infinite_Qantas!

impressive effort, amazing read!

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Thanks man, means a lot!

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Always thought it was Japanese Air Transport facepalm

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Never knew much about JAT, great to learn. You just earned yourself the badge of “educator.”

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Really interesting post! Also I didn’t know at all, that Air Serbia had these origins. Really well made post, thanks for sharing!

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Thanks Julian!

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