|Government considering new carrier as Sarajevo Airport looks elsewhere|
The Federation government of Bosnia and Herzegovina is considering setting up a new carrier to replace B&H Airlines, which has been grounded for three weeks but is yet to officially declare bankruptcy. The Prime Minister of the Federation, Fadil Novalić, has suggested for the government to invest 2.7 million euros into the new airline, which would initially operate with one leased aircraft. The carrier would take on part of B&H Airlines’ 90-strong workforce. The proposal came following talks between the government and B&H’s employees where the Prime Minister reiterated he will first offer HETA, the asset management company, 2.7 million euros to pay off part of the airline’s accumulated debt for the financial lease of its two ATR 72 aircraft. Furthermore, the government will request for the other eight million euros worth of debt to be written off. However, the asset management company is unlikely to agree to such terms, which will ultimately lead to B&H Airlines’ bankruptcy.
For its part, HETA says it is yet to receive the government’s proposal, although inside sources claim it will be rejected. “Once we receive an official offer from the government, we will be able to formulate our response”, HETA CEO, Manfred Gram, said. He added, “I want to underline that we are open for dialogue and are ready to contribute in finding the best solution for all parties involved”. Meanwhile, the company behind the Air Croatia project, which failed earlier this summer season, is now looking into setting up regional offshoots throughout the former Yugoslavia with Air Bosna being one of them. It is preparing to launch its own website, with similar projects planned for Macedonia and Albania as well.
Following thirteen months of consecutive passenger growth, B&H Airlines’ home base - Sarajevo Airport - has seen its passenger numbers decline. The airport handled 74.855 travellers in June, a small decrease of 0.2% compared to the same month last year. During the first half of 2015, Sarajevo welcomed 351.943 passengers, up 9.8%. According to its Managing Director, Ivica Veličan, the airport is in talks with several carriers to launch new flights to the city. “In the coming period we will finalise talks with new airlines. This autumn we expect the launch of new routes from Sarajevo to European destinations”, Mr Veličan said.