– brief history and situation today –
I’ve been thinking for a long time how to describe the rise and, unfortunately, fall of the national symbols of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I must tell you that although the war happened in our country, in 1994 the state leadership succeeded to establish first called Air Bosna Airlines, nick-named BHairlines.
In the fall of 2003, the Company had cancelled all flights and stopped passenger transportation. In 2004 the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has decided to re-establish BH airline. 2005 Air Bosna re-started flights under the new name of the B&H Airlines. The company organized flights for 14 destinations using a fleet of five aircraft.
It used to fly to seven international destinations. Some of them – Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Gothenburg and Stockholm – are no longer served with direct connections from Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the following few years the company had new owners. I thought it would all go for the better and that Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja Luka and Tuzla will play an important role in promoting the Bosnian pride.
On 29 October 2008, the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has decided that a Turkish National carrier, Turkish Airlines is the best buyer for B&H Airlines. After the capital increase in 2008, property of B&H Airlines was divided between: FBiH with 50.93%, Turkish Airlines INC Istanbul with 49% and Energoinvest 0.07%.
It has been renamed to Public Enterprise BH Airlines Ltd. based in Sarajevo. Here, in my opinion starts the fight for B&H Airlines, our national symbol because changing ownership of company Turks took all the profitable lines for themselves, there began the start of losses of B&H Airlines, as their lines were unsustainable and unprofitable.
One of such lines was flights from Sarajevo to Munich and Oslo. Turkish airlines also stopped paying the loan by which B&H Airlines would enrich its fleet for two planes in the amount of 18.4 million dollars. Such unfortunate harsh attitude resulted in the complete withdrawal of Turkish Airlines from the BH Company in 2012. It was then that our national company was left in debt. It wasn’t only the future of the aircrafts in question, but also the existence of the pilots, other personnel and their families.
B&H Airlines suspended schedule passenger operations on June 11. The federal government has decided to liquidate the carrier. I’m asking myself why? Unfortunately when the politics took matters into their own hands, like everything else in our country, things began to collapse. B&H Airlines recorded a net loss of 6.5 million Euros in 2014 and has outstanding debt amounting to 17.5 million Euros – sad, but true.
BH Airlines, which suspended all its flights at the beginning of June, could be shut down completely by the end of this year, the union representing the company’s workers told that. And they told the truth. Around 80 workers are currently employed by BH Airlines, and while some of them will find new jobs at Sarajevo airport, the future of 50 of them remains unclear.
They must find new jobs. B&H Airlines has outstanding debt towards HETA and the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank for the financial lease of its two ATR 72 aircraft, one of which has been grounded in Germany since the carrier is unable to pay for its maintenance. Furthermore, the airline owes money to Sarajevo Airport, several local and international suppliers, as well as its staff which haven’t been paid in months.
The liquidation of BH Airlines is a huge loss for Bosnia, not only from an economic point of view but also for civil aviation in our country. We have four main airports in the cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through which they have links with many cities around Europe. We have airports in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Tuzla and Mostar. They were re-opened after the war in Bosnia.
Sarajevo airport was re-opened for civil air traffic on 16 August 1996. Immediately upon the opening Croatia Airlines established connection between Sarajevo and Zagreb. Banja Luka airport was opened for civil air traffic on November 18th, 1997. Mostar Airport was re-opened for air traffic on July 07, 1998. Burned and destroyed terminal building with its infrastructure had been entirely reconstructed with financial means of European Union.
Tuzla International Airport was founded by Tuzla – Podrinje Canton Assembly Act of Law establishing PE Tuzla International Airport – Airport Dubrave during 1998.
The story continues…
Did we deserve this liquidation of BH Airlines? I hope that one day better and happier days will come for our airline and that the planes with our flag will raise high in the sky. We will rise like a phoenix from the ashes, because this nation deserves it.
My grandma Bernadette used to always take this airline. My grandma isn’t not around anymore though as she passed from inflammatory breast cancer (God Bless her), and not to mention, she had told me that in her early adult years, she succeeded losing a bunch of weight doing a Weight Watchers program and then her so called surgery for weight loss. I miss hearing her wonderful stories.
I think that one day, soon in the future, they will restore the flights to Stockholm, Goteborg, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Zurich, Prague, Vienna and Istanbul. This needs to happen for BH tourism and economy.
Please go to the link below:
https://www.alternativeairlines.com/bh-airlines. It is very sad for me, but maybe one day all will be the same like in the past.
I hope that our government, will understand the seriousness of disappearance of the national symbols of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they will find the best solution.
On the airline’s official Facebook page, the carrier wrote;
“We are aware of the situation we are in and that we could be shut down yesterday, today or tomorrow. There are many problems which have been building up over the years. As a result of the government’s neglect, we will be forced to stop working. We have been silent, despite four late monthly wages, years of unpaid benefits, a management which is not functioning and a number of educated and trained staff leaving. Tomorrow we will have nothing to do, but at least we will go to work. The government wants us grounded, shut down and moved out of the way so we can become dust”.
I personally think that workers need to privatize BH Airlines. Because, they only care about
the future of BH Airlines.