Only BiH does not have a national airline

Compared to neighboring countries, only BiH does not have a national airline.
The strongest air carrier in the neighborhood is  Air Serbia , which flies to dozens of regular, seasonal and charter destinations and transported 4.19 million passengers last year.

The national air carrier Air Montenegro operates in Montenegro, which has a network of 17 regular destinations, and last year they transported 475,000 passengers.

Croatia also has the national company Croatia Airlines, which transported 1.73 million passengers last year.

In our country, air traffic has been completely taken over by foreign companies. In the past, BH Airlines and Air Srpska remained, and the same fate befell the company  FlyBosnia , whose management claimed in 2019 that they “took the status of a national airline”, while now they do not have a single flight.

Omer Kulić, doctor of science in the field of aviation, says that owning a national airline is not only a matter of direct income, but there are also secondary incomes from air traffic.

– We try to grant benefits to other companies in order for them to fly, and we don’t have our own company. You have the official flag of a country in three places – in front of or at the assembly, in front of the United Nations, and on the tail of the plane. So, you carry that flag on the plane all over the world and present your country – says Kulić.

But, he reminds, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a complex country and the authorities cannot agree on the existence of a national company.

– I think it would be very smart to have our own airline, for several reasons. Every serious country has it. As far as aviation is concerned, we have fallen very, very low. Everyone around us is better and more successful. You see, there are a lot of rich people in Serbia who have their own private planes. If the rich people in Bosnia and Herzegovina came to an agreement, they could create an airline out of private interests. They could get certain benefits and fly. Bosnia and Herzegovina has a strong diaspora, these people fly often – emphasizes Kulić in a statement for Nezavisne novine.

Economist Igor Gavran says that aviation is definitely an “expensive sport” and many national companies survive only with large subsidies and frequent problems with losses, but…

– If the state is capable of sufficiently large initial investments and professional management of such a company, it would certainly be positive to have it for several reasons. In cases of extraordinary circumstances and crises, when it is necessary to evacuate our own citizens from an area or to transport essential goods or equipment, such as vaccines during a pandemic, it is a huge advantage to have our own company, and this also applies to cases when we have a strategic interest to establish some direct lines for destinations where there is no readiness of alternative companies or the prices are unacceptable – says Gavran.

And he is of the opinion that a solution could be found with a serious approach.

– I think that when this is approached seriously, there can be more benefits than risks in the long run, but I am afraid that the past experiences and failed attempts in both entities do not give much hope for success. If something were to be improvised again with rented used planes, inadequate destinations and incompetent, politically appointed management and excessive employment, I’m afraid that everything would just be another failure and a loss of money – says Gavran for Nezavisne novine.