Talks held with potential B&H partner
Investors from the United Arab Emirates recently held talks with officials regarding the possible purchase of B&H Airlines, Bosnian media reports. The Federal Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić, confirmed talks were held with a delegation from the United Arab Emirates. “It is true that we have held talks and we offered for them to become a strategic partner of the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by acquiring a 49% stake. That means, they have been offered everything which was previously offered to Turkish Airlines”, Mr. Bijedić said. He added the airline interested in purchasing B&H also wants to launch flights from the UAE to Sarajevo.
In a recent statement to broadcaster TV1, Mr. Bijedić unconvincingly said, “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 daily “Dnevni Avaz” speculates Etihad Airways, which has recently been linked to possible acquisitions of LOT Polish Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Alitalia as well as possible investments in the Slovak aviation industry, is behind the latest drive to purchase a 49% stake in the Bosnian national carrier. Sarajevo has never had scheduled flights to the United Arab Emirates. Late last year, Flydubai announced plans to launch a two weekly service to Sarajevo in April 2013. The planned flights were shelved in January under the explanation that crew duty times would have been exceeded on the return leg to Dubai, thus requiring a mandatory rest in Sarajevo and pushing up costs.
Over the past week there has been significant talk of privatising the national carriers in the former Yugoslavia. The Croatian Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure has begun his official state visit to Indonesia where he is set to discuss a potential partnership between Croatia Airlines and Garuda Indonesia. On the other hand, the CEO of Ljubljana Airport has announced that China Southern Airlines is close to purchasing a stake in Adria Airways, its flight school and Slovenia’s busiest airport. B&H Airlines was the first national carrier in the former Yugoslavia to be privatised back in 2008. Turkish Airlines, which bought a 49% stake, relinquished its shares in the airline last year, saying the Bosnian government was unwilling to cooperate.