Yesterday, Travel Service – the largest Czech airline and a 34% owner of CSA Czech Airlines – announced that it reached agreements with Korean Air and the Czech government to acquire further stake in the Czech flag carrier.
The airline said that it would acquire Korean Air’s 44% stake, as well as Czech government’s 19.74% stake – the latter pending regulators’ approval. If both of the transactions go through, Travel Service will end up owning almost 98% of the airline. The remaining 2.26% will remain in ownership of Česká pojišťovna a.s. – a Czech insurance company.
Current State of Travel Service and Czech Airlines
Currently, Travel Service operates a fleet of over 40 aircraft including A320s, 737-700s, 737-800s, 737-900s, and Cessna Citation business jets.
Besides being operated on Travel Service’s charter flights, some of the aircraft are also used on regular scheduled flights under the Smart Wings brand, as well as on flights for other operators.
For comparison, Czech Airlines currently only operates a fleet of 18 aircraft – 9 A319s, 3 ATR-42s, 5 ATR-72s, and a single A330-300 leased from Korean Air. The airline also has 7 A320neo aircraft on order that will replace some of the A319 once delivered.
The Future of Czech Airlines
Personally, if this transaction goes through, I am curious to see what the development at Czech Airlines will be in the following three areas: the airline’s brand, its alliance membership, and its A330 “fleet.”
On the brand side, I am convinced that the Czech Airlines brand will survive. In fact, I think it will be a great addition to the Travel Service portfolio – with Travel Service operating holiday charters, Smart Wings being the low-cost, and the “new” Czech Airlines being the full fare airline of the group.
I am less sure about CSA’s Sky Team membership and its sole A330, though, as both of these are closely related to CSA’s relationship with Korean Air.
While I am not too concerned about whether CSA stays in Sky Team or not, as a plane spotter, I certainly hope (although I have my doubts about it) that the A330 that CSA leases from Korean Air to operate its Prague-Seoul route will stay!