The German-backed airline Sea Air, which was previously registered in Slovenia, plans to commence operations from Banja Luka next year, the Ministry for Transport and Communication of the Entity of Republika Srpska, which forms part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has said. Talks between the two sides have taken place with Sea Air proposing to launch two weekly flights from Banja Luka to Frankfurt, Stockholm, Malmo and Basel in March 2017. Fresh talks are set to take place next month when a commercial agreement will be signed. According to the Ministry, which has referred to Sea Air as a German carrier, the company has made no requests for subsidies. "They are only seeking logistical and marketing support. We are prepared to sign a commercial agreement. They want to base one passenger and cargo aircraft here in Banja Luka and employ locals. Talks are developing in the right direction and we expect for flights to start next spring. Launching these services would develop air traffic in Republika Srpska and counter arguments that Airports of Republika Srpska [the public enterprise running Banja Luka Airport] has no perspective", the Minister for Transport and Communication, Nedjo Trninić, said, adding that Sea Air approached to government over the future flights.
Services from Banja Luka would mark Sea Air's return to the former Yugoslav region. It had previously operated out of Osijek and drafted plans to maintain flights to various Croatian cities, as well as Pristina and Mostar. However, after delaying its launch from Osijek five time, the airport blasted the airline in August 2015 and ended all cooperation. "Sea Air’s actions have created big problems for us, as we were unable to fulfil projects with other companies in order to allow the airline to base an aircraft and hire at least ten staff. As a result, we no longer support this project”, Osijek Airport said at the time. Although Sea Air later launched operations from Osijek, it eventually withdrew from the city and ran services within Central and Western Europe. According to a report by "Ch Aviation" from August this year, the Civil Aviation Agency of Slovenia has suspended Sea Air's Air Operator's Certificate (AOC). However, Sea Air CEO, Nandos Kos, said the airline was in the process of reactivating its AOC and would apply for a Croatian certificate as well. According to its website, Sea Air is currently flying under the AOC of Austria's Common Sky with one Boeing 717 and Boeing 737 each.
The General Manager of Airports of Republika Srpska, Dušan Janjić, has welcomed Sea Air's plans. "These flights would provide us with a strong stimulus, which would allow us to achieve our strategic goals". Last month, Minister Trninić said the Republika Srpska government was "focused on serious airlines" and noted that low cost carriers had no future at Banja Luka Airport. "Low cost carriers are not our future. We are more focused on serious airlines to whom we can offer fair conditions. We must offer passengers both attractive and scheduled routes because the population is big enough for the airport to function properly and develop in the right direction. Low cost airlines are very demanding in terms of subsidies and airports do not benefit from them" , Mr Trninić said. Currently, Air Serbia is Banja Luka Airport's only customer, maintaining three weekly flights from Belgrade.