Tough times for B&H Airlines
After more than a week, B&H Airlines is expected to resume services this afternoon. The carrier has been forced to suspend all flights after its ATR72 experienced technical problems and had to undergo maintenance. B&H’s other turboprop, which is in Germany, is also in maintenance and is expected to return to the fleet during the 2013 summer season. As a result, the airline has been forced to cancel flights to Istanbul, Zurich, Banja Luka and Copenhagen. “We are expecting to hear from our colleagues from aircraft maintenance and I can’t give any further information. One aircraft is in Germany while the other is in Sarajevo which has to undergo small scale repairs”, Edin Hrapović from B&H Airlines says.
However, the Minister for Transport and Communication in the Federation government, Enver Bijedić, said yesterday the airline is grounded because its account at the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank is blocked. B&H has accumulated significant debt towards the bank, mostly during the time it was run by Turkish Airlines. The Ministry for Transport and Communication says it is negotiating with the bank in order to solve B&H’s problems. Late last year several airlines expressed interest to purchase a minority stake in B&H, however, Mr. Bijedić says, “Once their delegations payed a visit to B&H Airlines, they never came back”.
B&H Airlines’ suspensions couldn’t come at a worse time for the airline. Its signature Istanbul service is in big danger following the successful launch of Pegasus Airlines’ flights between the city and the Bosnian capital. Pegasus now plans operate a sixth weekly flight between the two cities during the summer. Despite its problems, the Bosnian national carrier is sticking to plans to launch flights to Skopje from April 1. Whether it will lease a jet engine aircraft by the end of the month, as was previously planned, remains to be seen.