Czech Airlines is the domestic airline company of the Czech Republic, which is based at Ruzyne Airport, Prague. The airline is run by the Czech Ministry of Finance, Czech Consolidation Agency and some other Czech institutions.It serves 69 destinations in 41 countries and provides charter and cargo services as well. A member of the global Sky alliance, it caters to most of the European countries. It has a fleet of about 51 air carriers, two of which are operated by the Central Connect Airlines and seven have been taken on lease from Air Contractors. In 2006, it carried over 5 and half million passengers, while the next year (2007), it ferried over 5.6 million passengers.
History, Setbacks & Growth
Czech air service was set up on 6th October 1923 by the government of Czechoslovakia, as CSA (CeskoSlovenské Aerolinie). Its first transport flight took place between Prague and Bratislava. The airlines operated only domestic flights till 1930, the year in which its first international flight took off, from Prague to Bratislava and on to Zagreb. It suffered a major setback with the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939, which brought a halt to its development. After the arrival of communist party in 1948, flights to some western European and Middle East routes were suspended. Also, much of the fleet was later replaced by Soviet built airliners.
In 1950, CSA became the first target of triple hijacking in the history of world’s airlines. Three of its flights were forcibly flown to an American military base near Munich, instead of landing at Prague. However, only two-thirds of the passengers returned to Czechoslovakia and the rest asked for political asylum in the American zone. This ignited the tensions between the Soviet Union and the West during the cold war, hitting the airline in turn. However, with time, the airline managed to gain back its position.
In 1957, CeskoSlovenské Aerolinie registered itself as the second airlines in the world to fly Jet services. It started its first transatlantic service with a flight to Havana in 1963. Cuba provided the airline with primary training and assistance for operating its transatlantic flights and the routes soon were later extended to New York and Montreal. In May 1995, after the breakup of the Czechoslovak Federation, the airline adopted its present name. Five years later, in 2000, Czech Airlines became a full member of the SkyTeam alliance.
Czech Airlines maintains monopoly over 32 routes from Prague Airport, which also extend to three domestic routes, namely Brno, Ostrava and Karlovy Vary. This alone accounts for 40 percent of the total flights Czech flights. However, it faces competition from other carriers on the other routes. It carries passengers to destination across Europe, covering Croatia, Belarus, Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, France, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain and many other destinations. It also provides services to Canada and USA. In Asia, Czech air service serves to Armenia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Uzbekistan, Israel, etc. It also operates flights to Egypt in the African continent.
Fleet & Additional Customer Services
The fleet of Czech Airlines includes 51 aircrafts, namely Airbus A310-300, Airbus A319-100, Airbus A320-200, Airbus A321-200, ATR 42-300, ATR 42-500, ATR 72-202, Boeing 737-400, Boeing 737-500 and Saab 340. It has also placed orders for nine new planes. In the end of 2008, Czech airlines announced plans to extend added onboard and check-in services to its passengers such as travel insurance, lounge access at the airport check-in. CSA now offers Buy on Board services in addition to free services to its passengers.