The remaining 42 employees of the recently liquidated B&H Airlines have revealed the carrier’s plans prior to its collapse, which included an aircraft lease arrangement with Air Serbia, an increase in charter flights and the acquisition of a jet-engine aircraft. The head of B&H Airlines' employee union. Elvis Žiga, said at a press conference in Sarajevo on Monday, “Just before we were grounded, Air Serbia requested to lease one of our ATR aircraft for the entire summer season and we were also about to ink deals with Italian and Polish tour operators. Had we been in business this year, we would have run some 500 charter flights from Mostar Airport. There was also the possibility of acquiring another larger aircraft. Scandinavia was always a strong market for us and we had scheduled flights to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo, while services to Amsterdam were maintained daily”.
B&H Airlines has accused the former government of lobbying in favour of competitors such as Wizz Air and Turkish Airlines, which they say ultimately led to their company’s demise. “Low cost carriers came and they were given preferential treatment. Despite debts of almost 150 million euros, the Serbian government found a way to attract a strategic partner. Despite entering the European Union, Croatia Airlines found a way to survive on the market. Adria Airways also has its fair share of problems but they are fighting”, Mr Žiga noted. B&H Airlines' employees are to be dismissed over the next month despite being owed late wages and several years in unpaid benefits.
The company amassed significant debt over the years, which currently stands at 21.8 million euros. The airline owes 12.9 million euros to the asset company HETA for the financial lease of two ATR72 aircraft, 3.2 million to Sarajevo Airport, as well as 2.1 million euros to foreign providers. In May, the Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fadil Novalić, said his government was in talks with both Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airways over the future of the country's flag carrier, however, there have been no developments since. The company suspended operations in the summer of 2015 after its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) was revoked by the local regulator due to mounting debt.