In Business News this week: household consumption begins to increase; Czech Republic wins a 1.8 billion arbitration case; fuel prices continue to decline; passenger rail travel goes up slightly in 1H of 2013; e-book sales are expected to double this year; Prague Zoo, ETA are among the best known Czech brands.
A Czech Airlines plane flying from Budapest to Prague returned to Ferenc Liszt Airport shortly after takeoff on Wednesday morning. The pilot decided to turn the ATR-72 aircraft around after smoke was noticed onboard. The Hungarian media reported that a long smoke trail was seen behind the airplane as well. According to a Czech Airlines spokesman, one of the plane’s engines had caught fire. All 33 passengers and four crew members disembarked from the plane safely and without any injuries.
Difficult times lie ahead for the Prague Public Transport Company. The largest municipally-owned firm in the country is in massive debt, and hamstrung with huge contracts virtually impossible to cancel. Its new director, appointed earlier this week, is faced with the challenging task of increasing the company’s revenues and cutting costs while maintaining its operations and keeping the prospect of privatization at bay.
The Prague Public Transport Company has dropped a proposed plan to reintroduce turnstiles to the city’s underground rail system. The company’s freshly appointed director, Jaroslav Ďuriš, said it could not afford such a system at present. Turnstiles were removed from the city’s metro stations in the mid 1980s. The cash-strapped transport authority is currently looking at various ways to make savings, including pay freezes.
Major road works on the Czech Republic’s busiest motorway, the D1, have come to an end for this year. A section of the highway between Loket and Hořice was reopened on Sunday morning, meaning the entire road – which runs from Prague to Ostrava – is now open to motorists. The huge modernisation project is set to cost CZK 14 billion, much of which will be drawn from European Union funds.
A moving express train came close to crashing into a stationary express train at Neratovice in central Bohemia on Saturday evening. The fact the two machines were on the same track has been blamed on human error. After the emergency brakes were activated on the moving train it came to a halt around 100 metres from the one that was standing. No passengers were injured in the incident, which follows a similar situation involving two local trains on the outskirts of Brno earlier this month.
The Prague Public Transportation company (DPP) is around eight billion crowns in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy, the capital’s mayor Tomáš Hudeček said in an interview for Czech Television on Thursday evening. According to Mr. Hudeček, the main problem is a contract the company signed with Škoda Transportation in 2006 for 250 new trams to be delivered over 12 years, which is increasing the DPP’s debt by 2.3 billion crowns each year. The company says that they have encountered technical problems with all of the new 15T trams that were delivered so far, and have filed some 800 complaints with Škoda. If DPP fails to renegotiate the contract within the next six months, it will have to face major restructuring, according to the mayor.
In Business News this Friday: Distiller Stock Spirits will begin trading on the London Stock Market next month; Plzen’s Škoda Electric is expanding production; more and more Czechs are building their own homes; Prague’s mayor warns that Prague’s public transit company could face bankruptcy; operators of one of the country’s most popular ski hills will reportedly raise prices this season.
The board of directors of Prague’s transit authority on Thursday accepted the resignation of the firm’s CEO, Milan Křístek, a day he offered to step down. Mr Křístek was planning to leave his post by the end of November but the head of the board said that due to ongoing problems of the company, his resignation was accepted without further delay. Commentators say Mr Křístek’s decision to offer his resignation was motivated by waning support he felt from Prague City Hall, the company’s owner over his plans for the company, including increasing the prices of tickets for Prague’s metro, trams and buses.
Two JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets of the Czech Air Force were called out on Wednesday to help a sport plane en route from Germany suffering technical difficulties in Czech air space. The fighter jets helped guide the SR22 Cirrus, with three passengers and one pilot on board, safely to an airfield in Kladno outside of Prague. The plane’s automated communication system had suffered a glitch.
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