|B&H Airlines loses its Air Operator Certificate|
B&H Airlines’ Air Operator Certificate (AOC) has been suspended by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Directorate of Civil Aviation, prohibiting the indebted carrier from using its aircraft for commercial purposes. It marks the final chapter in the airline’s ten year history. B&H’s AOC has been suspend until at least October 2 and is unlikely to be renewed thereafter. The move ends any hope of the airline’s debt being written off by its providers, primarily the asset company HETA, which is owed over eight million euros for the financial lease of two ATR 72 aircraft. As a result, Icar Air is now the only Bosnian-registered carrier still in operation. The privately-owned airline, launched in 2000, holds a DHL contract and runs freight services between Sarajevo and the Italian coast with a small Let L-410 Turbolet aircraft.
B&H Airlines suspended all scheduled and charter flights on June 11, after HETA blocked its accounts on April 20 for a second time this year. Passengers who have booked their tickets with B&H have been urged to contact the airline’s legal department in order to be refunded. B&H Airlines was set up in 2005 on the foundations of Air Bosna, which also went bankrupt after amassing significant debt. The Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina is now considering setting up yet another successor. The Prime Minister of the Federation, Fadil Novalić, has suggested for the government to invest 2.7 million euros into the new airline. The carrier would take on part of B&H’s ninety-strong workforce and initially operate with a single leased aircraft.
During its ten year run, B&H Airlines was, for a short period, partly owned and managed by Turkish Airlines, which relinquished its share to the Bosnian state for free in 2012 following disagreements with the government. During its four year partnership with Turkish Airlines, B&H developed its route network and fleet with the introduction of jet-engine aircraft such as the Boeing 737-400 and the Airbus A319. However, the government has maintained that Turkish Airlines’ short-lived adventure in Bosnia destroyed the small carrier, leaving it with significant debt. Since then, B&H has been on a downward spiral with its route network diminished, its fleet grounded on several occasions and its accounts blocked.