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Ex-YU airlines should unite

The Secretary General of the Association of European Airlines, Ulrich Schulte Strathaus, has told the Slovenian daily “Dnevnik” that in order for the national carriers of the former Yugoslavia to survive they will need to unite into a single airline. “The once single Yugoslav market is now fragmented and a regional solution is necessary. The region needs an airline that would cover local needs and connect with global hubs”, Strathaus says. He notes that he recently discussed the issue with Adria Airways’ management. “It would be great if Adria Airways, which has extensive knowledge of the Balkan market, were to initiate a regional summit which would be dedicated to this issue, however, due to political quarrels I doubt this could happen”, Strathaus adds.

The Association of European Airlines counts 34 members, mostly national carriers. Adria Airways, Croatia Airlines and Jat Airways are all members. Montenegro Airlines also used to be a member of the association but mysteriously left after a few months. Strathaus believes that certain markets in the former Yugoslavia are too small to have their own national carrier. He notes that Serbia can’t find an investor for Jat, Croatia Airlines and Montenegro Airlines are operating with mounting problems and that B&H Airlines will go bankrupt when Turkish Airlines ceases financing it.

Last year, an idea to unite the former Yugoslav aviation market was put on the table during talks between the Serbian government and Turkish Airlines. It was suggested that a regional airline, Balkan Airways, could serve as a national carrier for Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia. In September 2011, Croatia Airlines and Adria Airways reached an agreement over a common business plan model. The two airlines agreed to strengthen ties and cooperate on jet leasing as a means of improving efficiency and streamlining fleet utilisation.

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