CSA Czech Airlines to Suspend JFK-Prague Service October 25th
CSA Czech Airlines has announced it will discontinue all of its long haul service effective October 25th, including its sole year-round trans-Atlantic route, Prague (PRG)-New York (JFK). It also appears the carrier’s summer service to Toronto (YYZ) will not return in 2010. The airline’s Airbus A310s, the fleet’s only widebody aircraft type, will be reassigned to charter service and intra-Europe flights.
This will likely be the last scheduled A310 service ever to serve JFK.
JFK-PRG will now be served solely by Delta, which launched 3x weekly service this past June 18th. This will be a CSA codeshare flight between the two SkyTeam carriers once CSA discontinues service.
Problems have been piling on the the government-owned carrier in recent times. In addition to the economic collapse deflating demand in Eastern Europe, CSA and other national carriers in the region have had difficulty adapting to the more open EU marketplace. Wizz Air, the low-cost-carrier based in neighboring Hungary, has been a particularly sharp thorn in CSA’s side, finding a very successful niche ferrying eastern Europeans between their homes and newly opened labor markets in the UK, Belgium and France. Wizz Air is now in the process of building a hub at CSA’s home base at PRG and just placed an order for 50 additional Airbus A320s at the recent Paris Air Show.
CSA’s fleet is not doing it any favors, either. The airline’s two remaining A310s were ordered while the country was still run by the Communists and delivered 18 years ago, less than two years after the Velvet Revolution. The A310 is an outdated aircraft that cannot operate overseas routes as efficiently as its newer counterparts can. Most of its short haul fleet is old, as well, and many aircraft are saddled with poorly negotiated lease deals signed by earlier management regimes.
Perhaps there will be brighter days ahead for CSA once privatization is completed, but that process, too, has run into problems. The government recently announced that the divestiture, originally scheduled to be completed in mid-July, would be postponed until September. Are investors getting cold feet?