Czech Airlines

Czech Airlines
CSA Czech Airlines
ČSA České aerolinie
Founded 1923
Hubs Prague Ruzyně Airport
Focus cities Bratislava Airport
Karlovy Vary Airport
Frequent-flyer program OK Plus
Airport lounge Crystal Lounge
Alliance SkyTeam
Fleet size 38 (+7 orders)
Destinations 63
Company slogan At home in the skies[2]
Parent company Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic
Headquarters Ruzyně Airport
Ruzyně, Prague, Czech Republic
Key people Miroslav Dvořák (CEO)
Revenue decrease CZK 16.6 bn[3]

Czech Airlines j.s.c. (Czech: České aerolinie, a.s.), trading as Czech Airlines (abbreviation: ČSA - České státní aerolinie -), is the national airline of the Czech Republic and temporary in Slovakia with its head office on the grounds of Ruzyně Airport in Ruzyně, Prague. ČSA was the second airline in the world to initiate successful jet airliner services (in 1957 using the Tu-104) and simultaneously the first airline to fly regular jet-only routes (between Prague and Moscow).[4] Today, it operates scheduled services to 69 destinations in 41 countries, including most major European cities and cities in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.[citation needed] It also operates charter and cargo services.[5] The airline runs a frequent flyer programme called "OK Plus" in reference to the airline's IATA designation, as well as the term of approval; OK also featured prominently in its previous livery. It is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. In 2009 it carried 5.5 million passengers.[6] The company never paid dividends, after losing a record CZK 3.8 billion in 2009 the state had to subscribe new shares with nominal value CZK 2.5 billion.[6][7]



Farman Goliath used by CSA in 1929
An Ilyushin Il-12 of Czech Airlines at Paris Orly Airport in 1957

CSA was founded on 6 October 1923, by the Czechoslovak government as CSA Československé Státní Aerolinie (Czechoslovak State Airlines).[8] Twenty-three days later its first transport flight took place, flying between Prague and Bratislava. It operated only domestic services until its first international flight from Prague to Bratislava and on to Zagreb in 1930. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939 development of the airline was terminated.

In February 1948, the Communist Party used the demission of right and center parties' ministers to take power in Czechoslovakia; later it suspended[who?] some western European and Middle Eastern routes, and, also because of the embargo imposed by the West on the western-built aircraft spares etc., gradually replaced much of the fleet with Soviet-built airliners. The venerable Ilyushin Il-14 was even updated and built under licence in Czechoslovakia as the Avia Av-14.

In 1950, CSA became the world's first victim of a triple hijacking. The three Czechoslovak airliners flown to the American air base in Erding, near Munich, stirred the world on both sides of the "burnt through" Iron Curtain and the case intensified the Cold war between East and West overnight. Three Douglas Dakota airliners landed in the morning of 24 March near Munich instead of at Prague. The first one, from Brno, at 08:20, the second one from Moravská Ostrava at 08:40 and the third one from Bratislava at 09:20. Two thirds of the people on board were involuntary passengers who later returned to Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovak communist government commissioned a 'flight to freedom' book, stage play and film (all bearing the name "Kidnap to Erding") which celebrated the kidnapped returnees as heroes who had not allowed themselves to be swayed by promises of capitalist opulence. The non returnees who requested political asylum in the American zone of West Germany were, on the other hand, proclaimed criminals and the Prague regime vigorously requested their extradition – although in vain. The pilot from Brno was Josef Klesnil,[9] a former Royal Air Force pilot with 311 squadron, who flew from Brno to Erding with a pistol at his head.[10]

CSA Tupolev Tu-104 OK-LDA, 1958. This aircraft is displayed in the Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely
A Czechoslovak Airlines Tupolev Tu-134A, OK-EFK in the ’70 at Pisa Airport.
A Czechoslovak Airlines Ilyushin Il-62 OK-DBE, 1975

In 1957 CSA became the third of the world's airlines to fly jet services, taking delivery/putting in service the first Tupolev Tu-104A in 1957. CSA was the only airline other than Aeroflot to operate the Tu-104 which was the world's first successful jet airliner. The service operated by the Tu-104A from 1957 between Prague and Moscow was the first jet-only connection (other airlines used both jets and piston/turboprop aircraft simultaneously).[4] The first transatlantic services started on 3 February 1962 with a flight to Havana,[5] using a Bristol Britannia turboprop leased from Cubana de Aviación. CSA's transatlantic flights were code-shared with Cuba's own services to Prague, and Cubana's crews provided initial training and assistance in the operation of the Britannias.

From the late 1960s, CSA used a range of Soviet-built aircraft, and modifications of them, for its extensive European and intercontinental services which totalled some 50 international and 15 domestic destinations. The Britannia was replaced with long-range Ilyushin Il-18D turboprops at this time, and transatlantic routes were established to Montreal and New York, besides Havana. Apart from the Il-18D, other aircraft in CSA's fleet included the short range Tupolev Tu-134, the medium-range tri-jet airliner Tu-154, and the long-range jet airliner Ilyushin Il-62. As was the case in several other countries, the Il-62 was the first long-range jet airliner to be put into operation by CSA (which was also the first foreign customer to buy Il-62s from Russia). The plane has a range of 10,300 km and for some time was operated concurrently with the Il-18D (range = 6,500 km). CSA operated a fleet of 21 Il-62s between 1969 and 1997 including 15 Il-62s and six (later model) Il-62Ms, 15 of which were registered under the OK designation and six being leased from Aeroflot. A CSA-registered Il-62 and three Il-62Ms were used as official Czech government transports between 1974 and 1996. The CSA Il-62 with call sign OK-DBF was lost in an unfortunate accident due to language mis-understanding between the crew and the control tower during a nighttime approach to Damascus in 1975.

After absorbing the "heavier" part of the Slov-air operator and taking its Let L-410A Turbolet turboprop commuters into its fleet in the early 1970s, the ČSA partner Slov-air became the world's first airline whose captain, Ján Mičica, was slain at the controls by a hijacker, the event happening during a hijacking to West Germany. The aircraft involved, OK-ADN is nowadays displayed in the open-air aircraft museum in Martin, Slovakia.

After the breakup of the Czechoslovak Federation the airline adopted its present name in May 1995. By the late 1990s, most of the Soviet aircraft were either onsold to other airlines or retired (a number were preserved), and replaced with Western ones such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A310, A320, and short-range ATR aircraft. CSA became a full member of the SkyTeam alliance on 18 October 2000. The airline is owned by the Czech Ministry of Finance (56.92%), Czech Consolidation Agency (34.59%) and other Czech institutions. It has 5,440 employees (at March 2007).

Boeing 737-400 in the airline's new colours
A Czech Airlines Airbus A320

As of 1 January 2010, the whole non-office ground staff of CSA Czech airlines has been transferred under a subsidiary ČSA Support, now renamed to Czech airlines handling s.r.o. As of February 2010, ČSA a.s. sold off its Dutyfree shops to another subject.[5]

EU competition regulators began an investigation into Czech Airlines on 23 February 2011 stating that it doubted the loss-making concern could return to viability and comply with European Union state aid regulations. [11]


Czech Airlines operate 32 monopoly routes from Prague Airport, including two domestic routes to Ostrava and Karlovy Vary, alongside with the feeding routes from Slovak cities Košice, Žilina and Bratislava. These 32 routes represent about 40% of total flights and just over 30% of total capacity. On 27 other routes, representing around 40% of flights, the airline faces direct competition from one other carrier, while on 7 major European routes (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Madrid, Milan, Paris and Rome) the airline faces two or more competitors.

Codeshare agreements

Besides those with fellow SkyTeam member airlines, CSA codeshares with the following (as of November 2011):

Financial results

Since its transformation to a joint stock company in August 1992 ČSA never paid dividends. The sale of a minority share to Air France was a fiasco leading to withdrawal of the French airline, subsequently Antonín Jakubše and Miroslav Kůla managed to stabilize the company and gradually enlarge its fleet.[12] In September 2003 Miroslav Kůla was fired. New CEO, ex-minister Jaroslav Tvrdík, agreed with the unions to increase wages by a third and announced "unprecedented" enlargement of the fleet.[13][14] In 2005 the financial situation sharply deteriorated. Even though sale of two ATR planes improved the operating result by CZK 198 million, the operating loss was almost half a billion Czech crowns and the Government of Jiří Paroubek replaced Jaroslav Tvrdík with Radomír Lašák. The airline generated further operating losses, profit CZK 2.1 bn from sale of almost all real estate and profit CZK 1.2 bn from sales of planes were not sufficient to offset them. In 2005-2010 ČSA generated operating loss CZK 3.4 bn, without the profit from sale of long term assets the operating loss would be two times higher. The gross margin did not even cover the personnel expenses.[15]

Consolidated financial results of České aerolinie a.s. in 2005-2010[15]
billion CZK 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2005-10
Sales 21.5 24.0 24.0 23.2 20.4 16.9 130.0
Cost of sales (18.3) (18.6) (18.7) (18.7) (18.1) (14.3) (106.7)
Gross margin 3.2 5.4 5.4 4.5 2.2 2.6 23.3
Personnel cost (4.1) (4.5) (4.8) (4.8) (4.9) (3.9) (27.0)
Disposals of LT assets 0.2 0.2 0.6 1.4 0.4 0.8 3.5
Other (depreciation etc.) 0.3 (1.3) (0.7) (0.3) (1.3) 0.2 (3.2)
Operating profit (0.5) (0.2) 0.5 0.7 (3.5) (0.3) (3.4)


A Czech Airlines Airbus A310 at Ruzyně Airport, Czech Republic. (2010).
A Czech Airlines Airbus A321 landing at Salzburg Airport, Austria. (2007)
A Czech Airlines ATR 42-500 landing at Zagreb Airport, Croatia. (2009)
A Czech Airlines ATR 72-202 takes off from Ruzyně Airport, Czech Republic. (2006)
A Czech Airlines Boeing 737-500 landing at Ruzyně Airport, Czech Republic. (2009)

The Czech Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft (at 5 November 2011):

CSA Czech Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Orders Passengers[16][17] Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A319-100 9 6 14 114 128
Airbus A320-200 8 8
Airbus A321-200 2 52 154 206 Leased
ATR 42-500 7 0 46 46 Leased from Air Contractors
OK-JFL painted in SkyTeam livery
Boeing 737-500 7 12 90 102
Total 33 6

1Different numbers given by Seatguru[18] and Seatmaestro,[19] although there is no official data on airline's website.

At November 2011, the average age of the Czech Airlines fleet is 8.5 years.[20]

In-flight services

Czech Airlines offers buy on board service on some flights in addition to free service.[21][22]

Charter flights

In June 2007, CSA signed a contract with Exim Tours, the largest Czech travel agency, extending their contract for another three years. Under the agreement, CSA will continue to provide air travel services to Exim Tours' clients heading to destinations such as Varadero in Cuba, La Isla Margarita in Venezuela, San Andres and Providencia island in Colombia, La Romana in the Dominican Republic, as well as to destinations in Egypt, El Salvador, Tunisia and Greece.

In May 2010, CSA withdrew their last Airbus A310[23] and Exim Tours signed a new contract with Travel Service Airlines from winter 2010/2011.

Foreign tour operators, as well as sports teams and companies, use Czech Airlines’ charter flights. The share of flights for foreign clients, compared with the total number of Czech Airlines charter flights, is around 40 percent.

Czech Airlines charter flights carried 797,299 passengers last year. These are operated on an ad-hoc basis mostly [24]

Czech Airlines operate chartered flight from Dublin on behalf of a number of Irish tour operators. An Airbus 321 is based in Dublin between May – October and December – April.

Head office

APC Building, the head office of Czech Airlines in Ruzyně Airport, Ruzyně, Prague

Czech Airlines has its head office, the APC Building,[25] on the grounds of Ruzyně Airport in Ruzyně, Prague.[26] On 30 December 2009 CSA announced that it will sell its head office to the airport for CZK 607 million.[27]


  1. ^ ICAO Doc. 8585 Edition 145
  2. ^ "Ceske Aerolinie (Czech Airlines)". TRANSNATIONALE.ORG. 
  3. ^ Annual Report 2010, page 45
  4. ^ a b Zeman 2003, p. 70
  5. ^ a b c Flight International 3 April 2007
  6. ^ a b Annual report of České aerolinie, a.s. for 2009
  7. ^ Commercial register at, identification number (IČ) 45795908
  8. ^ CSA Portal/History Section
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Mutiny In The Air Lanes", Time Magazine, Monday Apr 3rd 1950.
  11. ^ "EU competition regulators investigate Czech Airlines". Reuters. 23 February 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  12. ^ Marcela Alföldi Šperkerová, Jan Štětka, Operace OK: pacient umírá (Operation OK: the patient is dying), EKONOM.IHNED.CZ, 22. October 2009
  13. ^ Annual report of České aerolinie a.s. for calendar year 2003, page. 8-9, Jaroslav Tvrdík: "Již v roce 2004 dojde k bezprecedentnímu nárůstu přepravní kapacity společnosti." and page 57 (in November 2003 new collective contracts with the unions were concluded)
  14. ^ Marek Pražák, ČSA se pouštějí do odvážné hry, Mladá fronta DNES, 19. března 2004, 2nd page of section Ekonomika (average wage in ČSA should increase from CZK 33 thousand in 2003 to CZK 45 thousand in 2006)
  15. ^ a b Annual reports of České aerolinie a.s., calendar years 1997-2010
  16. ^ "Csa Czech Airlines Seatmaps". Seat Maestro. 
  17. ^ "Czech Airlines CSA Seating at SeatGuru". 
  18. ^ Seatguru seating chart for A320
  19. ^ Csa Czech Airlines – Airbus A320 200 Seatmap, Seatmaestro
  20. ^ "Airfleets: CSA". 
  21. ^ "Inflight Menu." Czech Airlines. Retrieved on 7 March 2009.
  22. ^ "12. 12. 2008 – Czech Airlines to Expand the Options to Purchase Additional Services." Czech Airlines. 12 December 2008. Retrieved on 7 March 2009.
  23. ^ Airbus A310 in CSA fleet,
  24. ^ "Dublin Airport Chartered & Scheduled Airlines". Dublin Airport Authority (DAA). 
  25. ^ "The Settlement of Land Relations between Czech Airlines and the Prague Airport Authority to Increase the Value of Both Companies Prior to their Privatisation." Czech Airlines. 22 August 2008. Retrieved on 15 February 2010.
  26. ^ "Imprint." Czech Airlines. Retrieved on 4 February 2010.
  27. ^ Heijmans, Philip. "Czech Airlines sells headquarters to Prague Airport." The Prague Post. 8 January 2010. Retrieved on 15 February 2010.


  • Zeman, Libor (2003). Czech Airlines 1923/2003 - For 80 years at home in the skies. Prague: Czech Airlines. 

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