Czech Airlines' Struggles - The Full Story

Czech Airlines or CSA is the fifth oldest operating airline in the world and was founded on the 6th October 1923. It serves as the national carrier for the Czech Republic and has a fleet size of 12 aircraft.

The Czech Airlines Airbus A330. Photo credit: Czech Airlines

After 2010 it was evident that CSA was struggling on its own due to the fact that they were making major losses for many years. So, in 2013 44% of the company stocks were sold to Korean Airlines with the remaining 56% belonging to Czech Aeroholdings a.s.  This new ownership also brought along a new route for CSA, connecting Prague (PRG) and Seoul (ICN) with the use of an Airbus A330.

Travel Service or as it’s now known, Smartwings, is an airline that is currently the biggest in the Czech Republic. The airline was founded in 1997 and operates chartered flights to many holiday destinations as well as scheduled flights across Europe. It has a fleet of only Boeing 737 aircraft as opposed to CSA which has 3 different aircraft types. Smartwings also have other subsidiaries in Hungary, Poland , and Slovakia. They are also due to open a new subsidiary in Germany later this year.

Photo credit: Czech Airlines

In 2014 Smartwings bought 34% of the CSA stocks under the approval of Korean Air and a profit was made just 2 years later in 2016. In 2017 Travel Service bought out the 44% stake that Korean Airlines had, bringing their total up to 78%. Then in late 2017 Travel Service bought a further 20% from the Czech state. As of today Travel Service/ Smartwings owns nearly 98% of CSA.

Smartwings made an announcement in March of this year that the CSA fleet would be replaced with Boeing 737 type aircraft and that they would be subsequently retiring the Airbus A319s and ATR-72s.

While Smartwings' business model isn't the same as that of Czech Airlines, it has still been able to bring the flag carrier back to profitability. The carrier has now grown and is likely to remain a key player within the European aviation industry for years to come.

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