New hope for B&H AirlinesMembers of Turkish Airlines’ management flew into Sarajevo yesterday for talks with the Bosnian government over a deepening row regarding B&H Airlines, three weeks ahead of the 2012 summer season. The government, which is B&H’s majority stake holder, is unimpressed with the way the Turks have managed the carrier and are requesting for Turkish Airlines to adhere to its takeover contract. Local media report that Turkish Airlines has not fulfilled many of its obligations which it signed up to back in 2008 when it took a 49% stake in the carrier. The Bosnian government is further angered that it has had to pump in 3.4 million euros into the national airline on an annual basis, despite Turkish’s presence.
Recently, in retaliation, Turkish Airlines took back its Airbus A319, which was operated by B&H and flights to Amsterdam were suspended with little warning. The return of the A319 to Sarajevo was discussed in yesterday’s meeting and progress is said to have been made. In February, B&H Airlines saw passenger numbers stumble 40%. It not only battled with constant flight cancellations as a result of its spat with Turkish Airlines but also saw extreme weather conditions.
Only last week, the Bosnian government approved a 1.3 million euro cash injection to cover B&H’s operational costs. Today, the carrier will only operate one return flight to Istanbul with other services cancelled. Furthermore, one its ATRs is undergoing maintenance leaving the carrier with a single ATR72. Yesterday’s meeting between Turkish Airlines and the Bosnian government is said to be going in the right direction, bringing hope to employees and passengers that the situation can be resolved.