Czech Airlines to Revert back to all-Airbus Fleet
A year ago, it seemed almost certain, that all the Airbus aircraft in Czech Airlines' (CSA) fleet will be phased out and replaced by Boeing 737 aircraft sourced from parent company, Smartwings, the biggest airline in Czechia. However, the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX quickly changed CSA's plans. The airline is now on track to return to an-all Airbus fleet, a weird and likely expensive feat. According to the current scenario, CSA is expected to have 13 Airbus aircraft for the summer season.
The inclusion of other Airbus aircraft has been confirmed by the spokeswoman of Smartwings, Vladimíra Dufková. “We rent three Airbus A320s for three to six years and we are negotiating the lease of three more. In the case of the current Airbus A319s, leasing contracts will be extended."
Plans to acquire additional Airbuses for CSA were confirmed by Smartwings last December, when the company announced a six-year lease agreement for an A320 (OK-HEU) as well as the start of negotiations on two more Airbuses. The latter contract has already been signed; It is not yet public how old the aircraft will be, though the registrations are known: OK-REV and OK-REW. In the case of OK-HEU, it is an 18 year old aircraft, which was first operated by Air France and then by Brussels Airlines. All three Airbuses are due to be in the fleet by the end of March. Negotiations also include the lease of three more A320s.
In other news, Czech Airlines plans to keep its Airbus A319s despite having originally sought to phase them out. Most of them are currently flying in Germany for Eurowings and in February and March 1 aircraft is set to be lent to Lufthansa. Some of the A319s are due to return to Prague. Originally, CSA said that it would then return all of them to a leasing company. However, they will remain in the fleet until August 2021. These are specifically OK-NEM, NEN and NEO. On the other hand, OK-NEP will be gone in August and OK-MEL at the end of the year.
CSA has also been considering its options in terms of their sole widebody aircraft. They have an Airbus A330-300 (OK-YBA) leased from Korean Air. The contract ends this year and it is unclear how and whether the airline will replace it. "Negotiations with Korean Air on business cooperation and leasing are ongoing," Dufková said. This is very beneficial for both companies. The Prague-Seoul route is limited to two carriers. The route has been one of the most profitable in the CSA network for several years now.
In October, Czech Airlines announced the purchase of 4 A220s as well as 3 A321XLR. The company wants to gradually phase out its ATR72-500 fleet (of which it has 5 in service) and replace them with Airbus A220s. As for the Airbus A321XLRs, the airline hasn't yet specified its plans.