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Etihad Airways Buys 49% Stake In JAT Airways

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Etihad Airways says it plans to acquire a 49 percent stake in Serbia's JAT Airways in a wide-ranging deal that will bring a new name and expanded routes for the struggling Belgrade-based carrier.

The pact is the latest partnership for fast-growing Etihad, which is locked in competition with other Gulf carriers, the Dubai-based Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Under the initial $80 million deal announced on Thursday, JAT will be renamed Air Serbia and it will expand its routes in Europe and the Middle East.

Last year, the head of the Association of European Airlines urged for partnerships between JAT and other airlines from the former Yugoslavia to remain competitive.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad already has investments in European carriers airberlin and Ireland's Aer Lingus.

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