|B&H Airlines to continue flying as new issues arise|
B&H Airlines has been temporarily rescued from bankruptcy after the asset company HETA and Hypo Alpe Adria Leasing agreed to unblock the carrier’s accounts in a last-minute deal with the Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. B&H Airlines owes some eight million euros to HETA for the ten-year financial lease for two ATR 72 aircraft, in a deal drafted in 2005. The asset company issued a deadline for the Federation government to deposit half a million euros by this morning, otherwise it would reposes the two turboprops. Following marathon talks between the two sides held throughout yesterday, HETA agreed to guarantees from the government for the 500.000 euro deposit to be made by March 31. Furthermore, Sarajevo Airport has also unblocked the carrier’s accounts after agreeing to reprogram B&H’s debt.
B&H Airlines still faces severe issues. One of its aircraft has been in Monchengladbach in Germany’s West for several weeks, where it underwent scheduled maintenance. However, the ATR cannot return to Sarajevo since B&H is unable to pay the required 200.000 euros for its servicing. As a result, the airline has been forced to temporarily suspend flights to Belgrade and has been cancelling services to Copenhagen, maintaining only flights to Zurich via Banja Luka. Furthermore, its other ATR is set to undergo maintenance after logging another fifty hours of flying time, which it expects to clock in the next fifteen to twenty days. If the airline is unable to return its other turboprop from Germany, it will no longer have any operational aircraft. In May, the airline’s financial lease for the two aircraft will expire with HETA and Hypo Alpe Adria Leasing unlikely to extend the arrangement under the current circumstances. Furthermore, B&H still has outstanding debt towards Europe’s airspace regulator Eurocontrol and Zurich Airport.
The CEO of B&H Airlines, Amir Jažić, commented yesterday on the dire situation at the carrier. “We have lost destinations, passengers and all the plans we have made with Italy. We already made an agreement to operate some 200 charters from Mostar to Italy but I think we have lost more than half of these”, Mr. Jažić says. Air Serbia has also suspended its codeshare agreement with B&H on flights between Belgrade and Sarajevo. In January, the outgoing Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina promised a bailout package for the carrier which would have settled its outstanding debts, however, the promised funds were never transferred to the airline. Four months on from the October general elections, the formation of new governments at different levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still ongoing with the current administration unable to adopt a new budget, making it impossible to allocate funds for B&H and other state-owned companies.
A month out from the start of the 2015 summer season, EX-YU Aviaion News will begin publishing planned network changes for the national carriers from the former Yugoslavia starting tomorrow