Associated Press
Serbia's JAT Airways to Purchase Jets

Serbia's national carrier JAT Airways will purchase Boeing jets and next year will resume flights to New York and Toronto for the first time in 12 years, the airline's director said Friday.

Aleksandar Milutinovic said JAT was holding final negotiations with Boeing on the purchase of its "latest generation" jets. JAT sources said that under consideration were eight Boeing 737-800s and two 767 extended-range planes which will be leased.

The decision meant that JAT ditched its preliminary deal made in 1998 with Airbus on the purchase of eight A319 jets that were to be delivered by 2005.

"JAT needs Boeing," Milutinovic said, referring to a long history of Boeing planes in JAT's fleet and training and maintaining capacities for the U.S.-built planes by local crews. The current JAT fleet consists of Boeing 737-300s and aging Boeing 727-200s.

A deal with Boeing would mean that JAT will purchase new planes for the first time in more than 15 years.

JAT Airways has been struggling to rebuild its fleet and reclaim a position in the market following international sanctions slapped on Serbia during the 1990s for the republic's role in the Balkan wars. The sanctions included an air embargo.

JAT Airways, formerly known as Yugoslav Airlines, stopped flying to the United States and Canada in 1992 after U.N. sanctions were imposed.

Milutinovic said JAT plans to resume its flights to New York and Toronto in June next year after receiving flight rights from the U.S. flight authorities earlier this week.