|B&H Airlines left with a single aircraft|
B&H Airlines is in a critical state and has been forced to ground one of two of its ATR 72 aircraft after the Federal government ordered the carrier to repay the state over 800.000 euros in passengers taxes on January 7, which were originally intended for the airline and its development. B&H has accused the Federal Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić, of neglect, lobbying in favour of competitors such as Wizz Air and Turkish Airlines, and complete unprofessionalism. B&H’s accounts have been blocked and the airline says it is in urgent need of two million euros in order to maintain operations and return one of its ATRs to the fleet.
B&H Airlines’ trade union launched a scathing attack on the government and Minister Bijedić, accusing them of the dire situation the carrier has found itself in. “You are incapable of understating that the problem is not that we have two aircraft, rather, it’s that we fly to three destinations. You are incapable of understanding that due to your lack of interest as a Minister over the past four years, you personally oversaw us being squeezed out from one of our most profitable routes - Istanbul. Due to your negligence you have allowed Turkish carriers to operate 25 weekly flights to Sarajevo compared to none of ours”, a letter from B&H Airlines’ trade union reads. Furthermore, the carrier says it has already drafted business plans for 2015 worth over four million euros, which would see it operate charters to Italy and Turkey, launch flights to Podgorica and Skopje, and conclude a one-year business arrangement with Air Serbia. However, the union says all of these have been put into doubt due to the airline’s current financial state.
The trade union says that many of the airline’s staff have not been paid in months and are holding the Minister personally accountable. “It is sad for a minister to brag that he brought direct competition [Wizz Air] to an airline owned by the Federation government of which he is a representative of and even gave them subsidies for it”, the letter reads. Earlier this week, Mr. Bijedić said that B&H Airlines has an incompetent management and is overstaffed but added that the company should maintain operations as it is in the state’s interest to have a national carrier. The airline’s trade union notes that the minister’s statements mean little without concrete help which, it says, is “much needed”.