The directors of Czech Airlines and Prague’s Ruzyně airport said on Sunday that they have suffered financial losses between 150 and 200 million Czech crowns, due to air space being closed down across Europe after a cloud of volcanic ash spread over the continent. The director of Czech Airlines said that the company is currently not considering asking the Czech government for financial aid. The airline suffered losses of tens of millions of crowns for each day that flights were cancelled, the exact amount of money lost has not been determined yet. Prague’s Ruzyně airport saw losses of some 50 million Czech crowns during the three days that the airport was closed down.
Flights to and from the Czech Republic are beginning to resume as normal after Czech airspace was reopened on Monday, but the country’s airlines and airports are now counting the cost of disruption. They’re also nervously watching for news from Iceland after the emergence of a second ash cloud which threatens to ground European air traffic once again.
The supervising board of Czech Airlines has approved a plan meant to restructure the company over the next three years. A spokeswoman for Czech Airlines said on Tuesday that the company would undergo an organizational shake-up and would gradually change into a holding company. The new restructuring plan is now pending approval of the Ministry of Finance and will be discussed by the Czech government in late April. The European Commission is currently investigating if a loan of 2.5 billion Czech crowns given to Czech Airlines by the state company Osinek was a form of illegal state aid.
State-controlled carrier Czech Airlines transported 4.7 million passengers in 2009, a drop of 1.5 percent compared with the previous year. The airline suffered a severe drop in passengers at the start of 2009 but by the end of the year there were signs that demand was picking up again. Separately, a special board meeting on Monday discussed an offer from the country’s biggest charter company, Travel Service, to take over Czech Airlines’ charter division. No decision, apart from a resolution that no airlines would be sold, was taken with further talks between the two companies planned.
Over 100 Czech holiday makers unexpectedly celebrated the arrival of the New Year in the Dominican Republic after their flight was cancelled due to technical problems. Czech Airlines rescheduled the flight for two days later, saying a spare part needed to be flown in before the airbus could make the flight back. The airlines covered the cost of accommodation and a New Year’s dinner for all 118 passengers. This particular flight had problems on the way out as well, after it was damaged by a de-frosting machine shortly before its planned take-off.
As part of its restructuring process, the loss-making Czech carrier ČSA will move all activities connected to the handling division of the company to its sister company, ČSA Support. The president of the airline, Miroslav Dvořák, told journalists on Monday that the goal of this step is to make spending in that branch more transparent and to increase overall efficiency. He added that he believes the airline’s business partners would also appreciate such a step, since it made the company’s business transactions easier to track.
Václav Novák is a crisis manager. And with the ongoing economic crisis following on the heels of the financial crisis, things have been pretty busy for him. He has been in the headlines a lot recently after being bombarded into a top position at state-controlled carrier Czech Airlines (ČSA) and then suddenly stepping down. But he has a long line of Czech companies that he has pulled back from the brink, including steel making giant Vítkovice. I met him in his central Prague office and asked him if he was surprised by the government decision not