Air Serbia (JU, Belgrade) has terminated its wet-lease agreement with Marathon Airlines (O8, Athens) after an incident on February 18 when an E195 operated by the Greek carrier was forced to return to Belgrade after striking ground infrastructure on take-off.

"Regardless of the results of the [ongoing safety] investigation, Air Serbia informed Marathon Airlines today that it is terminating cooperation with that company and, as of 21 February 2024, no Air Serbia flight will be operated by the said Greek company's aircraft. Flights that should have been operated by Marathon Airlines will now be operated by other aircraft in the fleet to maintain traffic continuity," the Serbian airline said.

The carrier emphasised that although it was not operating the flight it would fully cooperate with the investigations. It also apologised to passengers for the situation.

Flight JU324 from Belgrade to Düsseldorf was operated by OY-GDC (msn 19000204). Reports show the aircraft hitting ground infrastructure during late rotation at take-off. With substantial damage to its gear, fuselage, and wing, the Embraer regional jet circled over Belgrade for around one hour before returning to the airport. No passengers were injured.

Marathon Airlines also operated one E175, one E190, and one more E195 for Air Serbia. All three aircraft were ferried back to Athens on February 20 and 21, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows. Another E195, OY-GDA (msn 19000213), was delivered to Belgrade on January 30 ahead of induction into the ACMI contract but did not enter into service and remains parked at the Serbian gateway.

The two companies had cooperated since June 2023, when Air Serbia decided to add regional jets through an ACMI contract. It does not operate any aircraft in this segment in-house, having a fleet of seven ATR72-600s, seven A319-100s, three A320-200s (plus two more wet-leased from GetJet Airlines (GW, Vilnius)), and two A330-200s. It also wet-leases two B737-800s from KlasJet (KLJ, Vilnius).

Air Serbia did not respond to ch-aviation's question of whether it was planning to source an alternative regional jet operator.

The Greek carrier also operates two more E175s, one Legacy 600, and one Hawker 800XP. It did not respond to ch-aviation's request for comment on the impact of the incident with Air Serbia.