The Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fadil Novalić, has said his government is in talks with both Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airways over the future of country's flag carrier - B&H Airlines. "We held talks with both Turkish Airlines and Etihad because we are being responsible towards our company. We are in discussions", Mr Novalić told the "N1" network. He added, "B&H Airlines has received 567.5 million euros in support over the past ten year. It had 91 employees. For each passenger carried by B&H, the government provided 160 euros in support. That's crazy". B&H Airlines, which enjoyed subsidies for much its existence, said last year that it received its last payment from the state in 2013.
It is the first time that Etihad has been directly linked to B&H Airlines and its future. In the summer of 2013, unnamed investors from the United Arab Emirates held confidential talks with the then Federal Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić. It was widely speculated that Etihad was involved in the talks. At the time, Mr Bijedić said, “It is true that we have held talks with partners from the UAE and we offered them to become a strategic partner of the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by acquiring a 49% stake. As a result, they have been offered everything which was previously on offer to Turkish Airlines”. Etihad Airways, which owns a 49% stake in Air Serbia and has forged a Strategic Commercial Cooperation Agreement with Montenegro Airlines, has not commented on the matter.
The Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denis Zvizdić, said last month that Turkish Airlines is ready to resume talks with the government concerning the future of the country's flag carrier. Mr Zvizdić said the airline is willing to explore new models for commercial cooperation. "They [Turkish Airlines] are prepared for such negotiations to resume and for us to determine new models of cooperation. I am certain that talks between Turkish Airlines and the Federation government will resume soon and that they will head in the right direction", Mr Zvizdić noted. Turkish Airlines told EX-YU Aviation News it is "unable to make any comment on this issue for the moment". It added, "For any major issue to become definite, we first have to inform the Istanbul Stock Exchange in advance". In late 2008, Turkish Airlines took over a 49% share in B&H. However, the relationship between the carrier and the Bosnian government deteriorated by the start of 2012, with Turkish relinquishing its share in B&H later that year. Due to mounting debt, B&H Airlines discontinued all scheduled and charter flights on June 11, 2015, while its Air Operator's Certificate was suspended by the country's regulator a month later.