Turkish exit on the horizon?High ranking members of B&H Airlines’ management from Turkey have been withdrawn on behalf of the carrier’s 49% stake share holder Turkish Airlines. One of the terms set out by the Turks, after it purchased shares in B&H, was for its own management to take over. As the spat between the government and its Turkish partner has worsened over the past few months, the “Dnevni Avaz” daily is tipping that Turkish will sell off its shares in the carrier soon and is looking for an exit strategy. Earlier in the year Turkish Airlines Executive Committee Chairman stated, “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”.
Some of the casualties of Turkish’s management withdrawal include CEO Altan Buyukyilmaz, as well as the Managing Director for Marketing and the Executive Finance Director. The government is expected to name a new CEO in the coming months, with rumours circulating that former Sarajevo Airport Managing Director, Bakir Karahasanović, who led the airport for seventeen years, is the front runner to take the job.
So far B&H Airlines has not commented on the changes taking place in management. Enver Bijedić, the Minister for Transport and Communication in the Federation government says that so far he has not received an official notice of Turkish Airlines’ intention to back out of the ownership deal. Since 2008, when Turkish took over the reins at B&H things steadily improved, with the airline operating up to three aircraft and opening new routes to Scandinavia and Amsterdam. However, things begun turning sour late last year with Turkish withdrawing its Airbus jet from the B&H fleet and another aircraft grounded. As a result, the airline was forced to cancel many of its flights. Today, B&H carries outs its operations with a single aircraft, maintaining services to Istanbul, Copenhagen, Zurich and Banja Luka.