Air traffic deregulation in recent decades has contributed to a faster movement of people and goods and, as such, activated a utilization of numerous resources in the world. To most developing countries of the world, a smoother flow of passengers made it possible to improve tourism-oriented services and create massive job opportunities. If one adds to this the expansion of the IT sector and connecting through social networks, every spot on Earth became visible, or even attractive, for tourists. Airline and IT industry create the global village and, therefore, create prerequirements for opportunities across the planet.
When it comes to Bosnia-Herzegovina, there is a long tradition of airline industry, which was oriented more to military rather than to civil aviation. As an example, we could say that, due to its geostrategic position for the defence of former Yugoslavia, our country was the centre of military aviation with proximal military airports across the country, among which the most significant are: the Željava Airport in Bihać, which was the first airport when it comes to the volume of traffic in former Yugoslavia, followed by the Dubrave Airport near Tuzla, and finally, the Mostar airport. In addition to having a developed airport infrastructure, military aircraft models—Soko, Galeb, and Jastreb —were being assembled in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Mostar, as well as jet engines and other aircraft parts.
Civil aviation in Bosnia-Herzegovina was not in the first plan since both the aircraft and the crew of the local carriers at the time (JAT, Inex-Adria and Avio Genex) were based at the Belgrade and Zagreb airports. We could conclude that a long tradition in commercial airline transport in our country is almost non-existent, which explains an inferior aviation-specific knowledge. Following the independence until present-day, once military airports are now serving civil aviation and represent a valuable potential that needs to be exploited.
Situated within a relatively narrow geographical area, there are four international airports (Banja Luka, Mostar, Sarajevo, and Tuzla) while at the same time the Bihać Airport is undergoing adaptations that would allow it to be used for commercial operations.
In the era of globalisation, aviation, both military and civil, represents an equally important element in the economy and security of every developed country. There are numerous benefits as to why the role of this industry is of vital importance for the development of local economies. Tourism, commercial exchange, a faster transport of local goods to world markets, as well as an exchange of knowledges through business ventures and academic exchange programmes—all contribute significantly to a reduction in unemployment. These are only some of the tangible benefits of the airline industry. Air traffic, aside from opening international markets unreachable by land, increases the overall efficiency in conducting business and usually represents an important factor when making the decision on whether to invest. However, in countries where aviation-specific knowledge is inferior, it would be difficult to use the potential for the development of this valuable branch of industry.
Owing to deregulation, air traffic in Europe and the world went through a great expansion in the period from 1990 to 1998, which was a difficult period for our war-torn country. This is the reason why it is possible to understand our lack of dedication for such an important sector of development. At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that the above-mentioned expansion made the market barriers harder and the market more competitive. For that matter, professionals with international experience and education are needed for the development of the airline industry, which is specific for its international character and strong international competitiveness.
We have to be aware of the fact that airline companies do not conduct their business locally and that every aircraft, as it ascends the skies, in fact enters a regional or a global race. This very simple claim along with a lack of tradition in civil aviation or competitive knowledges explains the rapid loss of nine airline companies founded in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1994 until 2014.
Institutions and companies that comprise the structure of our airline industry in the context of civil and cargo aviation are: The Bosnia and Herzegovina Directorate of Civil Aviation (BHDCA), Bosnia and Herzegovina Air Navigation Services Agency (BHANSA), international airports (Banja Luka, Mostar, Sarajevo, and Tuzla), as well as Icar-Air and Fly Bosnia companies. When it comes to developing countries, such as ours, aviation is associated with prestige due to the necessary aviation-specific knowledges, which is why it is important to have quality professionals who manage the system. The functioning of this system, as a total, in this strategically-important branch of industry would directly affect progress of industrial development to the degree that all citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina could benefit from.
In order to use the potentials that a correct implementation of international aviation-specific knowledges offers, it is necessary to start with solving all the barriers at once as they could be compared to a system of ”connected vessels”. What is encouraging is the fact that there are numerous young and highly-motivated young people who cherish their passion for air traffic and who could, through education and academic supervision by international experts, soon become professionals competitive on the market. Such professionals could contribute to the existing infrastructure in order to establish a sustainable model of air traffic, regardless of airline carriers or one of our international airports. Such a positive turn in a short period of time is more realistic to expect in the private sector such as Fly Bosnia, but the positive trends would definitely be transferred onto the policies of relevant state institutions. As stated before, the development of the industry at a larger scale would boost tourism to a great degree as we invest our great hopes into this sector of industry, as well as export, and would contribute to building a positive image of the country and its promotion. The final outcome would also be reducing the unemployment rate.
Throughout its long history, citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina managed to find ways to lead their country out of crises and use the potentials available. In the golden era of Medieval Bosnia, our country enjoyed the status of a trade hub between the East and the West, which was the driving principle of its progress. Medieval Bosnians knew very well how to use their comparative assets of the time and how to develop their society. Due to the design of powerful Bosnian cannons at the time and the design of the Bosnian sword, i.e. designs used by almost all European powers at the time, Bosnia was enjoying a status of a respected country. Airline industry, both military and civil, present important opportunities for development of our time, that we, just like our ancestors, have to recognize. The geographical position of Bosnia-Hercegovina allows for a better positioning in the skies, especially when it comes to the regional air transport on the continent of Europe. Flying above the clouds across our planet, as a Boeing 747 pilot, I have come to realize that the sky is not the limit but the most cohesive tie, a bridge to anywhere!