The Serbian government has increased its share in Air Serbia to 82% through recapitalization for 100 million euros, just two days before the carrier’s partnership with Etihad Airways, which now holds an 18% stake, marks its seventh year. In comparison, Etihad turned a forty million US dollar loan provided to the Serbian carrier into a 49% stake on January 1, 2014. The Serbian Minister for Finance, Siniša Mali, said the funds will be used to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as make loan repayments. “We stabilized the company and its balance sheet in the best way. We also strengthened the state’s participation and returned some loans and debt caused by the coronavirus”, Mr. Mali said. 
He noted the company’s restructuring plan, drafted over the past two months, has been adopted. “Not only is Air Serbia entering 2021 without any problems, but it is also thinking ahead, about how to use the void left by Montenegro Airlines’ collapse on routes out of Tivat and Podgorica so that our company can earn more and maximize its services”, but the Finance Minister also said. He added, “Air Serbia is of vital national interest. Its importance was demonstrated throughout the height of the pandemic, during which it carried medical equipment, ventilators, medicine, as well as our citizens stranded across the world”. 
Etihad Airways has not commented on the reduction of its ownership stake in the Serbian carrier. In a statement earlier this week, Etihad Group CEO, Tony Douglas, said, “We’re working hard to build a new Etihad. We’re committed to becoming more efficient, more sustainable and a more innovative airline”. The Emirati flag carrier has terminated flights to Belgrade and announced its withdrawal from commercial activities on the Serbian market. Based on current inventory data, the airline will be ending its wide-ranging codeshare agreement with Air Serbia, which counts almost thirty routes.

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