Turkish considering B&H exit

Turkish Airlines blames government for B&H problems
Local media have tipped that Turkish Airlines, which owns a 49% stake in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national carrier B&H Airlines, could soon relinquish its shares. The Turkish carrier accuses the Bosnian government and its lack of cooperation for the current state the airline is in. “The partnership started off well. We wanted to export our know-how to the airline. However, the CEO of B&H had to wait three months to get an appointment at the Ministry of Transport. Our ideas were not met with understanding and the ministry did nothing to secure licenses to other countries. This caught us by surprise”, Hamdi Topcu, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines told the “Oslobodjenje” daily.

B&H Airlines is today operating with one ATR72 since another has been undergoing maintenance for over a month. Turkish Airlines’ Airbus A319, which operated for B&H has returned to its owner’s fleet and will not be returning to Sarajevo. The airline has been forced to cancel numerous destinations and many are beginning to avoid the national carrier due to uncertainty. In 2010, B&H Airlines recorded a loss of 10.230.000 euros. The airline is yet to publish its 2011 financial report although the Ministry of Transport warns that substantial losses were also recorded last year. “Bosnia does not care for B&H Airlines. This was a big disappointment for us. The main reason for the current state of the airline is a complete lack of interest and understanding”, Topcu concludes.

Enver Bijedić from the Ministry of Transport says Bosnia needs a national carrier. “It is our aim to survive with these two aircraft. We have to keep the airline and keep flying until there are better conditions on the market”. Earlier in the month the ministry accused Turkish for not adhering to its purchasing contract. B&H Airlines was set up on the back of the bankrupt former national carrier Air Bosna. The Bosnian government subsidises its national carrier with 3.4 million euros on an annual basis. B&H carried 129.435 passengers in 2011, a decrease of 6.7% compared to the year before.

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