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Serbia's new national airline, Air Serbia, began flying Saturday with a plane named after favourite son Novak Djokovic, the men's tennis world number two.

The Airbus A319, emblazoned with a double-headed eagle and Serbia's national red, blue and white colours, took off for Abu Dhabi.

Air Serbia said all its future planes would be named after prominent Serb figures.

The airline was formed in August, when the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways acquired 49 percent in Serbia's sole air carrier JAT. Etihad has been awarded a five-year contract to manage the carrier.

Earlier, Etihad's chief James Hogan said the company's first 10 new planes will also be A319s, part of Airbus's family of single-aisle medium-haul aircraft that can carry 124 passengers in its normal configuration.

JAT has a fleet of 14 planes, 10 Boeing 737-300s and four ATR 72-200s, all of which are around 20 years old.

Etihad holds equity investments in Airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus and Jet Airways.


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