Game over for Sky Srpska
The Banja Luka based Sky Srpska airline, which hasn’t operated a single flight since its creation in 2007, will be shut down next year. The company’s owner, the government of the entity of Republika Srpska, has said it will pull out from financing the carrier which has been unable to lease an aircraft for the past five years and launch operations. The airline, which received some 400.000 euros per year from the entity budget, has never been granted enough funds to lease an aircraft. Sky Srpska's employees are likely to be given jobs at Banja Luka Airport. Over the years the airline signed Memorandums of Understanding with Adria Airways and Jat Airways, while cooperation talks were also held with Montenegro Airlines.
Sky Srpska CEO, Zoran Injac, did not hide his disappointment at the government’s decision to back away from the project. He notes that the government was given plans for the airline to launch operations this year. It outlined an annual investment of up to two million euros and the lease of two seventy seat aircraft. A total of ten weekly flights were planned for the airline and an estimated 30.000 passengers to be carried per year. Initially, Sky Srpska intended to launch flights to Vienna and Belgrade.
The decision to close down the airline comes as the entity government looks to cut costs during turbulent economic times for the region. The government has also decided not to subsidise Jat Airways flights from Belgrade. While the airline has shown no interest to launch the service, the government hoped to entice the Serbian carrier with financial incentives. The CEO of Sky Srpska believes the decision to close down the airline was first made so finances could be directed at subsiding Jat’s service from Belgrade. “Now we are left not only without a national carrier but also without Jat”, Mr. Injac says.
Sky Srpska marks the second attempt at setting up an airline in Republika Srpska. The first, Air Srpska, was launched by JAT Yugoslav Airlines in the summer of 1998 with the Serbian carrier providing aircraft and crew. After United Nations sanctions, imposed upon Yugoslavia, were lifted JAT withdrew its 2 ATRs from the Air Srpska fleet and, as a result, the airline ceased all operations.