|B&H records poor Q1 results as Sarajevo continues impressive run|
Financial problems, network cuts and bad publicity have taken their toll on B&H Airlines with the carrier recording a significant decline in passenger numbers during the first quarter. B&H, which now operates flights only to Zurich via Banja Luka and charter services from Mostar to Italy with a single ATR 72 aircraft, handled 3.604 travellers during the first three months, down 41.8% compared to the same period last year. Of those, 3.152 passengers were carried on scheduled services, while the other 452 on charter flights. The number of operated flights declined by 13.7%, the Federal Office for Statistics of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina reports. The lacklustre performance comes as no surprise, with the airline suspending flights to Belgrade and Copenhagen during the first three months. In addition, the carrier was grounded for over a week due to financial issues and blocked bank accounts.
B&H Airlines’ woes are continuing into the second quarter. The carrier’s accounts have again been blocked by the asset company HETA. B&H owes some eight million euros to HETA for the ten-year financial lease of two ATR 72 aircraft. Following marathon talks in February with B&H’s owner - the Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina - HETA agreed to reprogram the carrier’s debts and unblock its accounts. However, neither the former nor the newly formed Federation government have made any of the promised payments to HETA. The airline has cancelled today’s service to Zurich. The ten-year financial lease of the aircraft, arranged with the asset company and the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank, expires this month. It is uncertain whether the lease will be extended under the current circumstances. B&H Airlines recorded a net loss of 6.5 million euros in 2014 and handled 35.606 passengers.
EX-YU airline Q1 2015 passenger numbers:
|Air Serbia||453.000||▲ 26|
|Croatia Airlines||302.053||▲ 3|
|Adria Airways||203.663||▲ 8|
|B&H Airlines||3.604||▼ 42|
Despite B&H Airlines’ problems, Sarajevo Airport has continued to perform well, with strong growth recorded during April. It welcomed 63.064 passengers last month, marking its busiest April on record. The numbers represent an 11.4% increase compared to the same month last year. The strong growth came despite only a 1% increase in the number of operated flights. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s busiest airport processed 132.804 kilograms of commercial cargo, up 3%. During the first four months, Sarajevo Airport handled 196.945 travellers, up 13.2% on last year. In a statement, the airport said, “We expect to see further growth in the coming period”. Earlier this week, Swiss International Air Lines launched services from Zurich to Sarajevo, providing additional competition to B&H Airlines on the route. Furthermore, Flydubai will double its operations to Sarajevo to four weekly flights during the peak summer season, from July 24 to early September. The additional flights have already been added to the system and are bookable through the airline’s website. Services between Dubai and Sarajevo were launched last December.