Banja Luka could close while B&H numbers take a hitBanja Luka Airport is facing a tough battle to keep its international operating license. It has less than a month to fulfil several technical requirements, including lengthening the taxiways, purchasing new security equipment and installing new security fencing, in order to keep its license. However, all of these measures require money while there are problems with land ownership when it comes to the taxiway lengthening. The Minister for Traffic and Infrastructure of the entity government, Nedeljko Čubrilović says, “Investments are needed at Banja Luka Airport as international standards have changed when it comes to security”. Čubrilović adds the government will do everything it can in order for the airport to keep its international status.
A total of 460.100 euros is allocated for the airport on an annual basis, while the government has been forced to inject additional funds in the past few years. During the summer of 2011 the airport was on the verge of losing its license due to a possible closure of its account, before the government intervened with additional finances. Banja Luka Airport is currently served by only B&H Airlines. However, there have been more cancelled then operated flights this year as the national carrier deals with its own problems. In 2011 Adria Airways operated subsidised flights from Ljubljana to Banja Luka but cancelled the service once the subsidies dried up. The airport has announced that it plans to negotiate with Austrian Airlines later this summer for the carrier to restart flights from Vienna in 2013.
Meanwhile, B&H Airlines has been hit by its cancellations in recent months. The airline welcomed 15.495 passengers in the first quarter, a decline of 44% compared to the same period last year, the Bosnian Civil Aviation Directorate reports. It should be taken into account that the number of flight operated by the airline almost halved on last year. Recently, B&H resumed its temporarily suspended routes to Zurich and Copenhagen but is still operating with only one aircraft, which has forced it to continue to cancel certain flights. On the other hand, there is not much the airline itself can be blamed for since it is being affected by the dispute between its two owners - the government of the Bosnian Federation and Turkish Airlines.