BH Airlines resumes flying after bank unblocks its accounts


Bosnia’s sole carrier BH Airlines resumed flying on Wednesday after a bank unblocked its accounts, frozen in February over outstanding debt, a top airline official said on Wednesday.

“Our accounts were unblocked yesterday,” Goran Jovanovic, the president of BH Airlines’ supervisory board, told Reuters by telephone. “We re-launched the flights today.”

The carrier, owned by Bosnia’s autonomous Muslim-Croat Federation, was grounded last week as the Bosnian arm of Austria’s Hypo Alpe Adria Bank claimed some 7 million Bosnian marka ($4.7 million).

Early in February, the bank froze the airline’s accounts over an unpaid leasing loan of 5.5 million marka for two ATR 72 aircraft and a 1.5 million marka rehabilitation loan.

The Federation ministry for transport and communications had offered to repay the debt from the sale of the two aircraft, topped with a further $550,000 from the government, minister Enver Bijedic told Reuters last week.

“The bank’s headquarters in Austria accepted the deal,” Jovanovic said.

A bank spokeswoman confirmed that BH Airlines’ accounts were unblocked on Tuesday but could not give more detail.

Hypo Alpe Adria had said earlier the airline’s bankruptcy was not in its interest but no further comment was immediately available.

The bank is in the process of rolling back its expansion into southeastern Europe in an attempt to shrink itself back to health.

In June last year, Turkish Airlines pulled out of a joint venture with BH Airlines and handed its 49-percent stake back to the government.

Jovanovic said several airline companies have expressed interest for a strategic partnership with BH Airlines but no concrete deals were put on the table yet.

The airline flies mainly to Turkey and northern Europe, serving the Bosnian diaspora.