Strong competition pushing B&H towards privatisation
Following Jat, Adria Airways and Croatia Airlines, B&H Airlines is the latest in search of a strategic partner. The Federal Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić, said talks have been held with several potential investors. “We have held talks with… I don’t know… some “Atlas Tours” and some “Airlines”. We are looking for a solution to find a way out of the crisis which has hit all neighbouring carriers”, the minister said. Last year, following Turkish Airlines’ exit from B&H Airlines, several carriers expressed interest to step in and take over. They included Libya’s Buraq Air, Tarhan & Tower Airlines from Turkey and AirAsia from Malaysia. In the end, they all backed away from a potential purchase.
The acting CEO of B&H Airlines, Amir Jažić, says that while the airline is operating normally, a strategic partner would solve all of its problems. “The solution is for someone to purchase us. That would be best for all. This way I doubt we can survive another year. B&H Airlines can’t compete against the large number of airlines which have taken over our flights”, Jažić says. He adds that Pegasus and Turkish Airlines operate up to 25 weekly flights from Sarajevo to Istanbul making it impossible to compete. “We have lost the fight for the Turkish market. You know the saying - big fish eats small fish. The government allowed for other airlines to step in. A few years ago Germanwings took over the German market. Now we have nearly lost Turkey. We can’t compete with two planes”, Mr. Jažić concludes.
Despite all of its problems, last year B&H Airlines posted a profit for the first time since the airline was launched. During this year the carrier repaid all of its loans to the Hypo Bank Group which saw its bank accounts frozen earlier this year due to late payments.