Tag Archive | "airline"

Sarajevo Airport’s year to remember

Sarajevo Airport has recorded its busiest year since opening its doors in 1969. In early November the airport handled more passengers than during all of 2012. In the following year, the airport will see the arrival of new airlines and will continue to invest into its infrastructure. “In the first half of November we welcomed our 600.000th passenger of the year, which is of big significance for us since it is the greatest number of passengers we have ever handled in a single calendar year. All this is the result of the constant business efforts of the Management Board and all the employees at our company”, Ivica Veličan, the CEO of Sarajevo Airport, says. Over the past two weeks the airport has been experiencing problems with poor visibility with many flights cancelled. This has reignited the debate whether Sarajevo’s airport should be relocated.
During 2013 Sarajevo Airport welcomed several new airline including Pegasus Airlines, Kuwait Airways and Moskovia Airlines which is to launch flights to the Bosnian capital tomorrow. For the coming year, SAS Scandinavian Airlines has announced the launch of seasonal summer flights from Stockholm to Sarajevo. Negotiations are continuing with the low cost airline Wizz Air and Etihad Regional has also shown interest to launch flights to the Bosnian capital. Talks are also being held with Libyan based airlines for the resumption of the Sarajevo -Tripoli service, which was last operated by Buraq Air prior to the rebellion in the country. B&H Airlines recently announced plans to launch several new regional flights next year.
Despite the increase in passenger numbers, Sarajevo Airport has cancelled its expansion project until further notice. However, there have been some improvements inside the existing terminal building with the refurbishment of the business class lounge, expansion of the duty free area and the extension of the airport’s catering facilities. “The improvements we have made in recent times has reflected in our financial performance. We have seen an increase in revenue in almost all segments (passenger services, aircraft handling, trade, cargo and complementary services). The growth in revenue has been particularly visible in the area of increased passenger flow and airline operations”, Mr. Veličan concludes. As it currently stands, 2014 promises to be another busy year for Sarajevo Airport.

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UAE investors eying B&H Airlines

UAE investors eying B&H Airlines

Investors from the United Arab Emirates recently held talks with officials regarding the possible purchase of B&H Airlines, Bosnian media reports. The Federal Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić, confirmed talks were held with a delegation from the United Arab Emirates. “It is true that we have held talks and we offered for them to become a strategic partner of the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by acquiring a 49% stake. That means, they have been offered everything which was previously offered to Turkish Airlines”, Mr. Bijedić said. He added the airline interested in purchasing B&H also wants to launch flights from the UAE to Sarajevo.

In a recent statement to broadcaster TV1, Mr. Bijedić unconvincingly said, “We have held talks with… I don’t know… some “Atlas Tours” and some “Airlines”. We are looking for a solution to find a way out of the crisis which has hit all neighbouring carriers”. The daily “Dnevni Avaz” speculates Etihad Airways, which has recently been linked to possible acquisitions of LOT Polish Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Alitalia as well as possible investments in the Slovak aviation industry, is behind the latest drive to purchase a 49% stake in the Bosnian national carrier. Sarajevo has never had scheduled flights to the United Arab Emirates. Late last year, Flydubai announced plans to launch a two weekly service to Sarajevo in April 2013. The planned flights were shelved in January under the explanation that crew duty times would have been exceeded on the return leg to Dubai, thus requiring a mandatory rest in Sarajevo and pushing up costs. Read the full story

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Wizz Air to maintain Tuzla flights

The low cost airline Wizz Airline will maintain services to Tuzla Airport this winter season, following the success it has had in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s third largest city over the summer. The airline will continue operating flights from Malmo, Gothenburg and Basel to Tuzla during the winter months, though the no frills carrier will cut down on frequencies. Services from Malmo will operate two instead of three times per week, with flights from Gothenburg and Basel also to run twice per week. The timing for all the flights will be adjusted. The changes come into effect on October 27. Recently, Wizz Air’s Chief Commercial Officer, Gyorgy Abran said, “Our presence in Tuzla demonstrates our commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina and we hope to further develop our operations in this market”.

Wizz Air has been successful in Tuzla so far, providing the airport, which has been mostly deserted since it opened its doors, with thousands of passengers. In the first three month of operations up to September, the airline operated 164 flights and carried 25.096 passengers on its Tuzla flights. In addition, Wizz Air has recorded an average of 152 passengers per flight. The airline initially planned to carry 30.000 passengers on its services to Tuzla but at the time did not plan to introduce flights from Gothenburg and Basel in addition to the original Malmo service Read the full story

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B&H Airlines looking for partner

Following Jat, Adria Airways and Croatia Airlines, B&H Airlines is the latest in search of a strategic partner. The Federal Minister for Transport and Communication, Enver Bijedić, said talks have been held with several potential investors. “We have held talks with… I don’t know… some “Atlas Tours” and some “Airlines”. We are looking for a solution to find a way out of the crisis which has hit all neighbouring carriers”, the minister said. Last year, following Turkish Airlines’ exit from B&H Airlines, several carriers expressed interest to step in and take over. They included Libya’s Buraq Air, Tarhan & Tower Airlines from Turkey and AirAsia from Malaysia. In the end, they all backed away from a potential purchase.

The acting CEO of B&H Airlines, Amir Jažić, says that while the airline is operating normally, a strategic partner would solve all of its problems. “The solution is for someone to purchase us. That would be best for all. This way I doubt we can survive another year. B&H Airlines can’t compete against the large number of airlines which have taken over our flights”, Jažić says. He adds that Pegasus and Turkish Airlines operate up to 25 weekly flights from Sarajevo to Istanbul making it impossible to compete. “We have lost the fight for the Turkish market. You know the saying – big fish eats small fish. The government allowed for other airlines to step in. A few years ago Germanwings took over the German market. Now we have nearly lost Turkey. We can’t compete with two planes”, Mr. Jažić concludes.

Despite all of its problems, last year B&H Airlines posted a profit for the first time since the airline was launched. During this year the carrier repaid all of its loans to the Hypo Bank Group which saw its bank accounts frozen earlier this year due to late payments.

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Fresh Suspensions from B&H Airlines – Airbosnia

B&H Airlines has temporarily suspended services to Zurich, Copenhagen and Banja Luka, leaving the carrier with a single daily service to Istanbul. Services to Zurich, via Banja Luka, will resume on April 24, while flights to the Danish capital return to the airline’s network on May 2. The suspensions highlight continuing problems the carrier is having with its part owner Turkish Airlines, which has taken back its Airbus A319 from the B&H fleet, unhappy with the government’s attitude towards its national carrier.

B&H currently has one ATR72 in its fleet. The other is formally still undergoing maintenance. However, there is hope that the aircraft will return soon. According to the official schedule the carrier will increase services to Istanbul to double daily from April 25, operate five weekly flights to Zurich and three weekly services to Copenhagen. The current scheduling would require a second aircraft.

Airlines operating to and from Sarajevo have profited from B&H’s woes and Malev’s demise. With inflated prices, Austrian is now operating two daily flights to the Bosnian capital, with much success. Jat Airways will be doubling capacity during the peak summer months as the Serbian carrier will operate flights with its Boeing B737-300 instead of the ATR72.There is still no word from Niki which is conducting a feasibility study into launching flights to Sarajevo.

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Turkish Airlines may exit from B&H Airlines – Airbosnia

Local media have tipped that Turkish Airlines, which owns a 49% stake in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national carrier B&H Airlines, could soon relinquish its shares. The Turkish carrier accuses the Bosnian government and its lack of cooperation for the current state the airline is in. “The partnership started off well. We wanted to export our know-how to the airline. However, the CEO of B&H had to wait three months to get an appointment at the Ministry of Transport. Our ideas were not met with understanding and the ministry did nothing to secure licenses to other countries. This caught us by surprise”, Hamdi Topcu, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines told the “Oslobodjenje” daily.

B&H Airlines is today operating with one ATR72 since another has been undergoing maintenance for over a month. Turkish Airlines’ Airbus A319, which operated for B&H has returned to its owner’s fleet and will not be returning to Sarajevo. The airline has been forced to cancel numerous destinations and many are beginning to avoid the national carrier due to uncertainty. In 2010, B&H Airlines recorded a loss of 10.230.000 euros. The airline is yet to publish its 2011 financial report although the Ministry of Transport warns that substantial losses were also recorded last year. “Bosnia does not care for B&H Airlines. This was a big disappointment for us. The main reason for the current state of the airline is a complete lack of interest and understanding”, Topcu concludes.

Enver Bijedić from the Ministry of Transport says Bosnia needs a national carrier. “It is our aim to survive with these two aircraft. We have to keep the airline and keep flying until there are better conditions on the market”. Earlier in the month the ministry accused Turkish for not adhering to its purchasing contract. B&H Airlines was set up on the back of the bankrupt former national carrier Air Bosna. The Bosnian government subsidises its national carrier with 3.4 million euros on an annual basis. B&H carried 129.435 passengers in 2011, a decrease of 6.7% compared to the year before.

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Sarajevo Low Cost Flights…starting

Sarajevo could soon see low cost flights from London, Rome and Dusseldorf as the Bosnian government relaxes its conditions towards no frills airlines. The government currently requires low cost airlines to pay a levy of ten euros per passenger in order to operate flights to the country. Until recently, the levy amounted to fifteen euros but the state government gave up on its share of the takings while the Federation government is expected to follow suit. According to the Al Jazeera Balkans network, interest has been shown for flights to commence from London, Rome, Dusseldorf and a city in Sweden to Sarajevo this summer. Recently, the low cost Austrian airline Niki, owned by Air Berlin, said it was evaluating the Bosnian market.

New airlines would be more than welcomed by airports in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In February, the country’s busiest airport, Sarajevo, suffered a 21% passenger decrease by handling only 26.278 passengers. During the month the airport was affected by bad weather but also B&H Airlines’ route suspensions. However, the full brunt of the carrier’s woes is to be felt at the airport in March. Currently, B&H operates a single daily flight to Istanbul with an ATR72. During February, Banja Luka Airport welcomed 424 passengers and Mostar 318. Tuzla did not manage to attract any passengers last month.

Sarajevo Airport is served by two low cost airlines – Germanwings and Norwegian Air Shuttle. Norwegian operates flights on a seasonal basis and will be resuming services from Oslo and Stockholm to the Bosnian capital this summer. On top of its all year round service from Cologne, Germanwings will resume seasonal flights from Stuttgart to Sarajevo this summer as well.

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The end of B&H Airlines

B&H Airlines has suspended all operations until further notice but has not ceased the sale of tickets to Zurich, Istanbul and Copenhagen. The airline is currently scheduled to resume operations to Istanbul on March 13, according to the Amadeus global ticketing system. However, the Bosnian carrier has suspended its planned seasonal flights to Gothenburg and Stockholm. It comes a week after it indefinitely suspended services to Amsterdam.

Currently, B&H Airlines does not have an aircraft in Sarajevo. Its two ATR72s are in Monchengladbach in Germany’s west. The ATR registered E7-AAD left weeks ago while the other, E7-AAE, took off for Monchengladbach on March 9. They are officially there for regular maintenance. Meanwhile, the Airbus A319 has been grounded in Istanbul since February 27. The government maintains that it too is undergoing technical checks.

It is believed that recent talks between Turkish Airlines’ management, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Turkish ambassador in Sarajevo and B&H Airlines’ management broke down earlier in the week. The Bosnian daily “Oslobodjenje” reports that B&H’s part owners, Turkish Airlines, have requested for the Bosnian government to cover debt which has been accumulated by the carrier. Turkish maintains it took over B&H not to make a profit but rather to help the struggling airline back in 2008. The government says it no longer has the means to finance its national carrier. It has ordered B&H Airlines to draft a business plan for 2012 after which talks with Turkish Airlines could resume. Whether B&H can bounce back remains to be seen.

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Talking about the future of BH Airlines

Members 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.

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Fly Niki planning flights to Sarajevo

The Austrian low cost airline Niki, now owned by Air Berlin, plans to introduce flights to Sarajevo, its Managing Director, Christian Lajsek says. The airline is in the process of evaluating the Bosnian market but also other countries in the Balkans, with Tirana mentioned as a possible addition to its network. Speaking to “ATW Daily News”, Lajsek says its network expansion will take place after Air Berlin enters the One World alliance on March 20. For the past year rumours have been circulating that Air Berlin is considering launching flights from Dusseldorf to Sarajevo.

A new service from Vienna would be warmly welcomed by passengers and would mark the end to Austrian Airlines’ monopoly on the route. When B&H Airlines announced its plans to resume services to Vienna this summer, Austrian was forced to reduce its ticket prices. After news broke last week that the Bosnian national carrier cancelled its planned summer expansion, Austrian inflated its prices. The Austrian national carrier will operate two daily flights between the two cities over the 2012 summer season. Niki’s arrival at Sarajevo would also see the return of a One World alliance airline, following British Airways’ pull out from the Bosnian capital. Currently, nearly all airlines operating to and from Sarajevo are members of Star Alliance.

Air Berlin and Niki are present in the region. The two airlines operate flights to Priština, Skopje and Belgrade and seasonal flights to the Croatian coast as well as Tivat in Montenegro. Lufthansa’s Germanwings is the only low cost airline operating all year round services to Sarajevo. During the summer Norwegian Air Shuttle operates flights from Stockholm and Oslo.

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