|Turkish Airlines interested in new airline partnership in Bosnia|
The Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denis Zvizdić, says Turkish Airlines has expressed interest in entering into a new partnership with the country's former flag carrier B&H Airlines, which suspended operations last year and is currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. A potential partnership would likely result in the establishment of a successor airline. The comments were made following talks between the Prime Minister and his Turkish counterpart in Ankara, as well as a major summit of business leaders from both countries. Last year, Turkish Airlines' CEO, Temel Kotil, said the carrier was looking into investing in other airlines in either 2016 or 2017. In the past, Turkish had been named as a potential investor in carriers such as LOT Polish Airlines, Croatia Airlines and Air Malta. Mr Zvizdić, who did not wish to go into further details on the potential revival of B&H Airlines, said that talks were held concerning a new collaboration between the two.
In 2008, Turkish Airlines purchased a 49% stake in B&H, which it handed back to the state four years later following disagreements with the government. Turkish developed B&H Airlines' route network and fleet during its four year management of the carrier, with the introduction of jet-engine aircraft, such as the Boeing 737-400 and the Airbus A319. However, the previous government maintained that Turkish Airlines’ short-lived adventure in Bosnia destroyed the small carrier, leaving it with significant debt. Since then, B&H went on a downward spiral with its route network diminished, its fleet grounded on several occasions and its accounts blocked. On June 11, 2015, B&H Airlines discontinued all scheduled and charter flights, while its Air Operator's Certificate was suspended by the country's regulator a month later. Bankruptcy proceedings were launched last month, with part of the airline's 90-strong workforce taken in by Sarajevo Airport.
The Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fadil Novalić, suggested last year that a successor to B&H Airlines would be established, with the government to invest 2.7 million euros into the new airline, which would initially operate with one leased aircraft. B&H Airlines itself was set-up on the foundations of Air Bosna, which launched in 1994 but ceased operations in 2003 due to mounting debt. Two years later, the government revived the carrier and renamed it B&H Airlines. Following its demise, the Central German Tourism Development Company initiated talks over a potential takeover, however, these plans never materialised.