|Government to settle B&H Airlines’ fate|
The Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina will settle on whether B&H Airlines should maintain operations or be shut down at a meeting next week, the outgoing Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić, has said. The airline, which has been left with a single operational aircraft and mounting debt, has submitted its rescue plan to the government. “The proposal comes down to B&H Airlines requesting funds from the state budget to solve its problems”, minister Bijedić says. He adds, “We sent them back their proposal and ordered the airline’s management and Supervisory Board to draft a new proposal which will feature several alternatives for the company’s salvation. The fate of B&H Airlines will be known only after the government meets”.
B&H Airlines has outstanding debt towards HETA and the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank for the financial lease of its two ATR 72 aircraft, one of which has been grounded in Germany since the carrier is unable to pay for its maintenance. Furthermore, the airline owes money to Sarajevo Airport, several local and international suppliers, as well as its staff which haven’t been paid in months. In addition, the company is to repay 800.000 euros in passenger taxes to the Federation government which were initially intended for the carrier’s development. Last week, B&H Airlines’ acting CEO, Amir Jažić, said he feared it was “too late to save the company”. However, the Minister for Transport believes the airline could reprogram its debts, reduce its 100-strong workforce and launch new routes in order to recover. Furthermore, Mr. Bijedić believes the airline should become a true flag carrier, which would encompass both entities which form Bosnia and Herzegovina, rather than just the Federation.
Meanwhile, local media have suggested the newly established Bosnian Wand Airlines (BWA), has been set up with the intention of replacing B&H Airlines once it suspends operations. BWA, founded by the Al Wand group from Iraq, has been operating flights between Sweden and the Middle East for the past month. The airline was to commence operations from Sarajevo last week but has delayed its launch for a third time. Services are now set to start on February 20. BWA does not hold, nor has it applied, for an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The company maintains operations with a Greek license instead. Commenting on BWA, B&H Airlines’ CEO says, “They are not an airline at all. They have aspirations to become one. However, there is a long way from aspirations to reality. They employ other companies to do their job and that is unlikely to be sustainable”.