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By Daria Sito-Sucic
SARAJEVO, April 17 (Reuters) - Turkey’s national carrier Turkish Airlines is threatening to pull out of its tie-up with Bosnia’s flag-carrier BH Airlines after the Bosnian government said it can invest no more money in the joint venture.
“They told the (BH Airlines) supervisory board president that they were considering pulling out,” Enver Bijedic, the transportation minister in the government of Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat federation, told Reuters.
“They want us to pump more money from the budget into the carrier - but we can’t afford it.”
A spokesman for Turkish Airlines, which holds a 49 percent stake in BH, said no decision has been taken but confirmed earlier reports about problems in the partnership. He declined to elaborate.
Turkish Airlines acquired a stake in BH Airlines at the end of 2008 and agreed to pay for the leasing on an Airbus A319 aircraft, which was grounded in Istanbul in February.
BH Airlines also leases two ATR 72 aircraft.
“We need to see what can be done to overcome this situation,” Bijedic said, adding the Turkish pull-out was not a done deal yet.
Government sources said the Turkish partners had insisted on nominating an all-Turkish management for the company.
Sarajevo-based newspaper Dnevni Avaz reported on Tuesday that Turkish Airlines wanted to exit the partnership because of huge losses.
Bosnian government auditors reported a total loss for BH Airlines of 32.7 million Bosnian marka ($21.7 million) in 2009-2010. (1$=1.502 Bosnian marka) (Additional reporting by Evren Ballim in Istanbul; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters and Mike Nesbit)