Hope for B&H as owners work out their differencesA truce between the owners of B&H Airlines (the Bosnian government and Turkish Airlines) seems to be on the horizon after the Turkish carrier rebuffed claims it is selling its 49% stake in the Bosnian national airline following several rounds of talks with the government. The feud between the two has paralysed the carrier since the start of the 2011/12 winter season back in October last year with numerous temporary cancelations of routes, dumped network expansion plans and a fleet reduction. Turkish Airlines is unhappy with the way the government has conducted itself in regards to B&H, while the Bosnian government claimed that the Turks themselves were not adhering to the privatisation contract.
However, Nermin Nikšić, the Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, says the government will comply with its obligations towards both B&H and Turkish Airlines and voices his understanding for the Turks. “The Turkish state, government and people have special relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and its people. I am touched by the attention and respect the Turks have shown towards Bosnia, but unfortunately many Turkish investors have been played”, Nikšić says. The Prime Minister goes on to note, “I understand the position Turkish Airlines is in. It is the third airline in the world and certainly doesn’t have to bother with some Bosnian company which annually carries the number of passengers Turkish does in three days. We held a series of talks with our Turkish partner and it is clear they won’t be cheated”.
The Prime Minister reveals that the Bosnian government is responsible for financing two leased aircraft (ATR72s) and that the means will be found to fulfil these obligations. The government has so far payed half of the two million euros needed to finance the B&H fleet. “I honestly hope there won’t be any sudden turnaround in all of this and that we will be able to make all our payments in the coming period”, Nikšić says adding that the two aircraft won’t be taken out of the airline’s fleet. Currently one ATR72 is operating for B&H with the other in Germany for the past few months. Although officially the aircraft is undergoing maintenance, it is likely that necessary leasing payments were not made.