Government commits to help out its national carrier
Following statements made by the CEO of B&H Airlines, Amir Jažić, in relation to the “alarming” and “distressing” financial state the airline has found itself in, the federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has vowed to help its national carrier. “The situation at B&H Airlines is critical”, the Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić, said yesterday. However, he added the government is prepared to work with the national carrier to solve its problems. The Ministry of Transport plans to boost the 3.5 million euros currently allocated to the airline from the federal budget. Furthermore, it has requested for the Federal Civil Aviation Directorate to write off debt accumulated over the past year by B&H Airlines.
One of the greatest obstacles facing B&H at the moment is the debt owed to the Hypo Group for the financial lease of two ATR72s. “The agreement with the bank is very bad. It lasts until 2015 after which the aircraft will again be owned by the Hypo Group and not our airline which has been leasing the aircraft for the past ten years”, Mr. Bijedić said in a statement. B&H currently owes 4.3 million euros to the Hypo Group. Last time the airline fell behind in meeting its obligations earlier this year its accounts were blocked and its aircraft grounded.
The government is now looking to renegotiate the deal with the Hypo Group so the aircraft would be owned by B&H Airlines after the leasing arrangement expires in 2015. The Bosnian government has been in search of a strategic partner for B&H for over a year. Despite several foreign companies showing interest, talks have so far been unsuccessful. “We cannot get rid of our only national carrier. We will do everything for the company to survive and function properly”, Mr. Bijedić concluded.