Desperate times at B&H
B&H Airlines has been grounded again for the time being as the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank announces it has blocked all of the carrier’s accounts. All flights have been cancelled for today and tomorrow. Yesterday, the airline resumed operations after more than a week by carrying out its afternoon service to Istanbul. The airline has maintained it had suspended flights due to a technical issue with one of its ATR72s.
“Blocking B&H’s accounts was our last resort. The reason for such action was the accumulated debt B&H Airlines has towards Hypo Alpe Adria in Bosnia and the outstanding payments the airline has on its loan for the financial lease of the ATR aircraft”, Ana Jurković, from Hypo says. She adds the bank did not make the decision lightly but noted that it must treat B&H like all of its other clients. The bank’s representatives, including the country’s Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić, met up on Monday in an attempt to resolve the issue which has grounded the Bosnian national carrier. “B&H Airlines has been offered several models to restructure its payments. Unblocking the accounts will depend on whether a common agreement can be reached. Hypo expects for B&H Airlines’ management to act responsibly and consider all of the options so the current situation can be resolved”, Ms. Jurković says. She adds, “It is not in our interest for B&H to declare bankruptcy”.
Last year, in February, B&H Airlines found itself in a similar situation when Turkish Airlines decided to pull out of the carrier’s ownership structure. One of its ATRs was in Germany for maintenance while the other was grounded in Sarajevo for some time. However, even then it was reported that the carrier was not making payments on the loans it took out for the financial lease and eventual purchase of the ATR72s. The latest grounding comes just three weeks prior to the 2013 summer season. B&H Airlines is providing alternative transport for all passengers which have been affected by the cancellations.