Czech Airlines and the country’s travel agencies have lost millions of crowns as a result of the unrest in Egypt. Czech Airlines has estimated its losses to date at around 100 million crowns, while travel agencies say they have lost around 50 million as a result of cancelled package holidays to Egypt in February. Czech travel agencies are currently bringing their holiday makers back from Egypt’s Red Sea resorts amidst growing concerns over security. Five Travel Service chartered flights and one Czech Airlines flight are being dispatched in the course of the next two days. Ninety-nine percent of Czech holiday makers in Egypt should be back home by the end of the week.
Czech Airlines denied on Sunday that their carrier’s landing gear caught fire during landing at the Karlovy Vary airport on Saturday evening. The news website idnes.cz reported that the incident happened shortly before 9 PM when the plane’s break pads caught fire; flames reportedly began bursting from the lading gear as the plane with 187 people onboard was approaching the runway. The plane’s pilot was alerted by a warning system; he turned on extinguishing and landed the plane. The airport’s fire fighting unit then made sure the fire was out. However, Czech Airlines spokeswoman said they got in touch with the plane’s captain and technicians at the airport, and said no problems whatsoever had been reported.
A plane headed for Brussels, belonging to the national carrier ČSA, was forced to return to Prague’s Ruzyně Airport shortly after take-off on Thursday. The aircraft – which had had several hours’ delay due to the cold weather – reported problems with ice in the slotted flaps on the wings, forcing the pilots to turn back. A spokeswoman said that the passengers had not been in any danger. One of those on board, Deputy Transportation Minister Jakub Hodinář, reported that passengers been informed of the reason for turning back; he described the plane’s crew as having matters fully under control, the Czech news agency ČTK said.
The Czech government has merged CSA Czech Airlines and Prague Airport into one entity, Český Aeroholding. Announcing the decision, the Finance Ministry said the move would create a stable subject with a strong capital position from the two state-run companies. CSA has been in financial difficulties for some time and has been managed since last year by the profit-making Prague Airport. Other airlines have said they are concerned that the airport could give unfair advantages to CSA under the deal.
Transport Minister Vít Bárta has made clear he will address Czech Airlines and Prague and Brno’s airports for help to try and keep open a flight route between the Czech and Moravian capitals, in all likelihood providing favourable conditions for negotiating with another airline. According to sources, under its restructuring programme ČSA is scrapping flight routes operating at a loss, including Prague-Brno; on Thursday Transport Minister Bárta met with ČSA president Miroslav Dvořák but categorically ruled out state funding for the route, given planned austerity measures. The minister said he had commissioned historic data as well as actual numbers and costs on the Prague-Brno route.
Losses incurred by the volcanic ash cloud to Czech Airlines, hotels and travel agencies will amount to well over 700 million Czech crowns, the Ministry for Local Development reported on Friday. Prague hotels reported losses to the tune of 250 to 300 million crowns, Czech Airlines reported damages amounting to 300 million while travel agencies reported losses of around 126 million. The losses were incurred in the course of three days during which Czech airspace was closed to traffic.
The minister of transport, Gustav Slamečka, said in an interview with the Czech daily Hospodářské Noviny on Monday that Czech Airlines’ operating costs had lead to losses of approximately four billion Czech crowns in 2008. He said that the number of passengers who travelled with Czech Airlines in that period is estimated to be about four million, which means that with each passenger, the airline suffered a loss of roughly 1000 crowns. Mr. Slamečka supported the airline’s proposed three-year restructuring plan, which the government approved on Monday. The plan seeks to cut costs by gradually changing the company into a holding company. Other cost-cutting measures include cuts in staff and the number of planes in the Czech Airlines fleet.