The Czech Republic has been hit hard by the ongoing travel restrictions, and its airlines are suffering. Smartwings Group, the owner of Smartwings and Czech Airlines brands, suffered an 81.5% drop in passenger numbers and a 90% fall in revenue in 2020 when compared to 2019 figures. Nevertheless, it remains the largest airline at Václav Havel Airport Prague.

Smartwings sees 81.5% fewer passengers

The ongoing pandemic has caused an unprecedented decline in passenger figures for the Smartwings Group, the largest Czech airline and the owner of Czech Airlines.

Through all of 2020, the Smartwings Group airlines carried just 1.8 million passengers. This represents a decline of 81.5% compared to 2019. The 1.8 million consists of 1.3 million passengers who flew on scheduled and charter services of the eight Smartwings Group airlines, and a further 451,000 passengers who flew onboard Smartwings aircraft but for different airlines, under ACMI agreements.

Dire figures but no state aid

The number of the group’s flight operations decreased by 78.4% this year. Commenting on these dire figures, the CEO of Smartwings, Roman Vik, said:

“Early last year, Smartwings Group seemed to be heading for the best results in its history. Instead, it had to face an unexpected and unprecedented aviation industry crisis. A dramatic decline in demand caused by the extraordinary circumstances forced us to adopt severe austerity measures and take many radical steps.

As Simple Flying reported last year, Czech Airlines did not start flying until May 18th. After the state of emergency was lifted in the Czech Republic and the wider region, the Smartwings Group did not manage to reach even 20% of its 2019 levels on a month-by-month basis.

Prior to the pandemic and before the existing travel restrictions that have had such a negative impact on the group’s finances, both Smartwings and Czech Airlines was profitable airlines.

While the vast majority of airlines across the world have received state aid in some form, Smartwings and Czech Airlines have not received anything. The group publicly rejected state aid from the Czech Republic because it did not wish to hand over any ownership to the state.

Commenting on the group’s airlines’ prospects for the future, Mr. Vik said the following in a press release seen by Simple Flying:

A key factor for a revival of travel is successful vaccination of the population. Our goal is to regain a position of a major player on the European aviation market and a competitive air carrier. We still believe we can make it, mainly thanks to our employees who have done extremely well during the crisis. Big thanks to them!”

Despite the major fall in passenger figures, the Smartwings Group has still strengthened its position as the largest air carrier in Václav Havel Airport Prague.

The group also pointed out that it immediately responded to the emergency needs of its citizens last year, when it operated rescue operations to a whole range of countries. These included the Philippines, Peru, Cuba, Panama, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Canary Islands, among others.

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