B&H plans to return to the sky tonight
The national carrier of Bosnia and Herzegovina plans to resume flights tonight by operating its service to Zurich after cancelling flights to Copenhagen and Istanbul today. The cancellations come as B&H’s bank accounts have been frozen due to mounting debt and unpaid loans. The airline’s only ATR72 in Sarajevo has been on the ground for more than a week, the only exception being a flight to Istanbul operated on Wednesday. B&H’s other ATR is in Germany undergoing maintenance. The Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina is determined to save the carrier but has warned it faces bankruptcy if its issues with Hypo Alpe Adria Bank are not resolved soon.
Enver Bijedić, the Federation Minister for Transport and Communications, explains that flights have been suspended due to debt to the amount of 3.5 million euros owed to Hypo Bank. Furthermore, the airline owes 2.8 million euros on a leasing loan for two ATR72 aircraft and a 767.000 euro rehabilitation loan. Mr. Bijedić said B&H Airlines had deposited collateral of roughly the same amount with the bank. Under a 2005 contract with Hypo Alpe Adria, B&H Airlines bought two ATR72s worth a total of fourteen million euros. “The company has paid back 11.4 million under the leasing loan, while these two planes are today worth 6.8 million euros", Mr. Bijedić said. He blamed the airline’s previous management for its current financial problems.
B&H Airlines has offered to settle its issues with the bank by selling the two aircraft, topped with a further half a million euros from the government. B&H Airlines receives an annual government subsidy of 1.3 million euros, as well as proceeds from departure taxes at Sarajevo Airport.