|B&H gives up on Istanbul route|
B&H Airlines has suspended flights on its signature route to Istanbul Ataturk Airport. The carrier operated its final service from Sarajevo to Turkey’s largest city last Tuesday after which all flights were terminated. Ticket sales for the route have also been suspended until further notice. So far this month, the airline has cancelled more services to Istanbul than it actually operated with only two flights performed in the last two weeks. Over the past year, B&H has been hit by strong competition on the route and has been squeezed out by its larger rivals Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines. The carrier maintained four weekly flights to Istanbul with an ATR72 aircraft this summer, down from daily flights only a year ago.
The Bosnian carrier will continue to maintain flights to Zurich, Belgrade and Copenhagen this summer. It recently launched seasonal services from Banja Luka to Tivat, once per week, with twenty passengers on board its inaugural flight. The airline has also tapped into the lucrative charter market this summer with flights from Mostar and Sarajevo to Foggia, Bari and Pescara in Italy, catering mostly for pilgrims visiting the Medjugorje site. The flights will run until the end of September with a total of 45 rotations planned. Charters during the winter season are also being considered.
|B&H faces strong competition|
Passengers traveling from Sarajevo to Istanbul will still have a significant selection of flights to choose from as Turkish Airlines offers up to four daily services between the two cities, operating from both Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen airports. On the other hand, low cost Pegasus, which launched flights to Sarajevo last year, operates daily flights to the Bosnian capital. B&H Airlines has been struggling with its finances since Turkish Airlines relinquished its 49% stake in the carrier in 2012. B&H recorded a loss of 2.9 million euros in 2013 and has outstanding debt of 2.3 million euros to Hypo Alpe Adria Bank for the financial lease of its two ATR72s. The carrier’s revenue plummeted 38.4% during last year.