Qatar mulls Czech Airlines stake
Qatar Airways is looking to take a minority stake in Czech Airlines (CSA). Akbar al-Baker, Qatar chief executive, told media in Doha that the fast-growing carrier was acquiring data from the banks and entities responsible for organizing the privatization of CSA, but added there were “no talks yet.”
The Czech government said in December that it was considering the sale of the struggling airline in April or May, and is believed to have received expressions of interest from long-time partner Korean Air Lines as well as Qatar Airways.
CSA, hard hit by Europe’s economic woes and competition from low-cost carriers, is making heavy losses. However, after three years of operating only intra-regional services with its A319, A320 and ATR turboprop aircraft, the carrier is set to add an A330 to its fleet and reintroduce long-haul flights. A twice-weekly service to Seoul is planned from June in a code-share with Korean Air, which currently runs four times per week to Prague. Jiri Marek, CSA’s VP sales and marketing, said the A330 could also add capacity on existing routes, for example to CIS destinations.
A code-share agreement signed with Etihad Airways a year ago saw CSA launch services to Abu Dhabi, and it will build on this by adding Etihad-operated flights to Nairobi, Singapore and Brisbane to its schedule.
CSA Cargo acts as GSA in the Czech Republic for fellow SkyTeam members Korean Air Cargo and Delta Cargo.