POSTED: November 21st 2013

Korean Air purchase ramps up increased passenger traffic to Vaclav Havel Airport

CHAD WISE / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Korean Air’s recent acquisition of a 44% stake in Czech Airlines has turned into a spike in passengers at Vaclav Havel Airport Prague, with more than 2,000 transit passengers in Prague in September.

Korean Air is likely to be the main airline for the PyeongChang Winter Games of 2018.

The stake was purchased in April 2013, though Korean Air and Czech Airlines had already had a code-share agreement since December 2012.

“That was why they bought a share in ČSA, so that they [would have] an increase in Prague airport,” airline industry analyst Tomas Mencik told the Prague Post.

“Korean wanted to get to smaller airports, to Germany, to Italy, to France, where ČSA usually flies. The main idea behind buying a share in ČSA was to get access to smaller airports around Europe.”

The 2,000 passengers in September is an increase from 1,700 in June, 1,300 in July, and 1,700 in August. No more than 600 passengers were recorded in any of the first five months of the year.

Vaclav Havel Airport owner and majority stakeholder of Czech Airlines, Cesky aeroholding, said the airport on the whole had been visited by more passengers throughout the year.

“It’s the first evidence that there’s something going on in terms of the partnership of ČSA and Korean Air,” Česky aeroholding spokesperson Michaela Lagronova said. “We anticipate there will be more positive figures in future and the positive impact of the co-operation will be more and more [evident] in the long term.”

Czech Airlines, celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, began a direct service between Prague and Seoul in June. The increase in traffic at Vaclav Havel Airport has caused the airport to post signage in Korean, as well as Czech, English, and Russian.

“It was in Russian as well because we have a lot of Russian passengers coming to Prague, point-to-point or transferring in Prague,” Lagronova said. “It was the same thing with Korean [language signage] and Asian passengers; it makes sense after the signing of the contract [with Korean Air].”

Industry market analysis organisation CAPA stated in a recent report Korean Air could have increased its passenger numbers without purchasing the stake in Czech Airlines.

CAPA said the acquisition “has so far left most people confused and dubious of benefits,” while the increase in passengers could have been caused by the cancellation of an agreement with Lufthansa.

CAPA also said the purchase was relatively “cheap” and would boost Czech Airlines’ buying power.

“If Korean Air makes the orders [for new aircraft] for ČSA, they will definitely see saving,” Mencik said.

Keywords · Korean Air · Czech Airlines · Vaclav Haval Airport · Prague · Czech Republic · CAPA · Lufthansa ·

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