In Business News this week: Škoda Auto unveils new Kodiaq SUV in Berlin; Budget airline Ryanair planning two new routes from Prague next summer; ANO justice minister backs more powers for customs officials; Chinese investors CEFC free to buy high-end Prague hotel; Prisoners to keep working at call centre for mobile operator:
Czech car maker Škoda Auto officially unveiled its new SUV model, the Škoda Kodiaq, on Thursday evening in Berlin. Škoda Kodiaq is sharing the construction platform with the Volkswagen Tiguan and SEAT Ateca and sports a 4.7-metre long body to accommodate a seven-seat layout. It is set to enter the market early next year, with a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines.
The budget airline Ryanair is planning to increase its number of routes from Prague by two next summer, adding the English city of Liverpool and Trapani in Sicily. The company currently has three routes from the Czech capital and had already planned two new ones – to Rome and Bergamo – from November. Ryanair said the new lines would mean an annual increase of around a quarter of a million people travelling from Prague.
The minister of justice, ANO appointment Robert Pelikán, is working on an amendment to the Criminal Code that would give customs officials powers to investigate crimes. Mr. Pelikán said the move would increase efficiency as it would do away with a situation under which customs officials hand cases over to the police who then go over the same ground. A similar idea was put forward last week by ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš, whose ministry oversees the Customs Administration. The interior minister, Milan Chovanec of the Social Democrats, has come out against the proposal. He recently announced the creation of a new financial police unit to focus on tax crime from the start of next year.
The Chinese company CEFC is free to purchase Prague’s high-end Mandarin Oriental hotel after the deal was approved by the Office for the Protection of Competition. The news was announced by a spokesperson for the anti-trust agency on Wednesday. The Chinese firm will buy the Malá Strana property through its company Karmelitská Hotel and says it aims to capitalise on the rapid rise in the number of tourists between the two countries. CEFC has already made substantial investments in the Czech Republic, buying Slavia Prague football club, the Lobkowicz brewery and a large chunk of air carrier Travel Service.
Inmates at a prison in Vinařice, central Bohemia are to be allowed to continue working in a call centre, Czech Television reported. They will again offer the services of mobile operator T-Mobile, a project that was previously halted over fears that the prisoners could get access to customers’ private information. However, the Office for the Protection of Personal Data dismissed those concerns as unfounded. The Ministry of Justice says working can encourage prison inmates to learn work habits and reduces the likelihood of their reoffending.
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