Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ČSA plans Zagreb and Belgrade pullout

Zagreb and Belgrade flights on the line
The national carrier of the Czech Republic, ČSA is seriously considering suspending flights to Belgrade and Zagreb from the start of the winter season, insiders say. The Czech airline is trying to concentrate on more profitable markets by opening a base in Bratislava in neighbouring Slovakia and launching several new routes to Russia.

Only a month ago the SkyTeam member airline flew to the Croatian capital 9 times per week, usually with ATR72s. It has now cancelled 3 of its weekly flights and downgraded to a 45 seat ATR42. The airline won't be operating its traditional seasonal summer services to Dubrovnik and Split either. Zagreb was ČSA’s first international destinations, launched back on July 1, 1930.

The Czech national carrier is making more drastic cuts to its Belgrade service which used to operate twice per day. Effective immediately, the airline has cancelled 10 of its weekly flights and now operates only 4 times per week from Prague to Belgrade with a Boeing 737-500. The airline will close its representative office in the Serbian capital tomorrow. Flights between Prague and Belgrade have been operating since 1946 with the only interruption occurring during the 1990s when flights to Yugoslavia were banned under international sanctions. Jat Airways suspended flights to Prague as part of its cost cutting escapade in 2008 along with Tirana, Gothenburg, Malta, Thessaloniki and Tripoli. All of them, expect for Tirana and Prague, were resumed the following year. The main problem on the route is the lack of point to point passengers.

27 comments:

  1. Makes me wonder, is it the Serbian market or CSA? My guess would be CSA since random airlines like airBaltic (or Tarom) managed to stay in Belgrade and actually make a business. Out of the whole bunch that offers connections to Europe, CSA was always stupidly expensive.

    Oh well... I guess that Malev and Lot are more than happy with this news.
    Shame to lose a SkyTeam member in Belgrade.

    By the way, why don't they just downgrade the route to a 4 weekly, or 5 weekly Atr-42. Would make much more sense.

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  2. Very bad news for ZAG and BEG. Good news for star alliance carriers and Baltic, who will now shuffle even more pax to Scandinavia. I just wonder why there isn't enough O/D traffic between PRG and BEG? There is a considerable serbian diaspora and PRG is very popular with Serbian tourists....
    While from ZAG I can understand due proximity and all through motorway facility.

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  3. A lot of groups that do visit Prague usually travel there by bus. It's kind of Vienna, Bratislava and Prague tour.

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  4. When CSA introduced its second daily flight from BEG that was a good step to attract transit and business passengers. Increased frequencies, convenient flight schedule, one should say all that a business traveler might appreciate, especially if a business trip require only a night over at destination airport.

    All except fares. Unreasonably high!
    Many times I was checking OK's offer when I was planning my trips and have never left my money to them. For a night over flight to FRA they asked some 700 euros in economy. Two nights over about 550 and 4 nights around 200. It was similar with their CDG and MAD offer.
    Based on these facts I could tell that they adjusted their schedule to business and transit passengers while fares were adjusted to "one time" passengers, not frequent travelers though.

    On the other hand all morning flights departing BEG on any airline are either fully or nearly fully packed and if an airline has no demand the problem is not in low market capacity but low brain capacity of its management and their incompetent market analysis
    analysis if any was executed

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  5. Does anybody know how business is on their Prague to Skopje service?

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  6. CSA will stop Ljubljana too. Slovenia is in Eu so they will pull out llater :)

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  7. @Anonymus 11.45

    CSA has one of the best SLF on the SKP-PRG leg.Even in low season SLF is high about 75 percent and is always flown by A319 or B735.But 6-7 years ago CSA used to offer the best and the cheapest connections to North America and had about 11 flights a week from SKP.The route was very popular.I dont know why they downgraded the service but probably due to the cutting of the transatlantic network.Now they fly daily to SKP.

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  8. as CSA is the only SkyTeam carrier at SKP i guess they remain with their 6 weekly

    even Delta has a codeshare on PRG-SKP

    @last anonymous

    CSA never had more then 6 weekly to SKP. They started with 5. you mixing up something i think (perhaps with Malev)

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  9. Flying Jack,

    Could not agree more with you. However I am sure that other airlines will be more than happy to salute them as they leave Belgrade.

    I think of the happiest is Malev as they have been struggling. However it seems to me that they are doing ok now since yesterday they sent their B737-600 to BEG.
    Also, soon they will start their two weekly night flights to Belgrade.

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  10. ...on a side note.

    Malev is sending their B737-600 to Belgrade again today. My sister flew on Spanair to Barcelona yesterday and their A320 was packed to the last seat.
    Also, Aerosvit is sending their E195 to Belgrade tonight. However since it's like 3h late it's probably a substitution as the E145 might have broken down or something.

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  11. I am sure that CSA is doing some heavy cost cutting. The desperate move by the government to combine CSA with the profitable airport of PRG is under scrutiny by the EU, since unprecedented. I don't even remember if this was common in the USSR or eastern block to run an airport together with an airline!

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  12. CSA used to attaract a lot of passengers from BEG and ZAG when they operated flights to NYC. Once those were cut, the number of passengers started declining. The same happened with Malev. CSA has been experimenting with weird routes lately. Recently, they introduced Prague-Almaty-Hanoi flight, operated by A320. Who in the world would take this long flight on a single aisle plane? This just shows that the management at CSA has no clue what they are doing.

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  13. @Sam


    The Hanoi route was introduced for tour operators. I do agree that it doesn't make sense to have that route on the A320 but... not to mention that Lot flies the route using their B767-300.

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  14. Well, if ČSA backs out from Belgrade (which I kinda hope wont happen), and there is no direct connection, this can be used as a reason for WizzAir to introduce flights, and obliterate the bus transport which is 50euros return.

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  15. 2 Sam and Nemjee: The flight to Hanoi never started! While CSA keeps on flying between PRG and Almaty, the continuation to Hanoi was only rumored ...

    Otherwise, for me personally, if CSA stops flying between PRG and ZAG, I'd be very sad as I have taken this route many many times and if I would want to continue flying SkyTeam on that route, I'd have to fly via CDG (nothing that I'd be really looking forward to ;-))

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  16. i was always wondering how can they fly 2 times per day from prg to beg. its absolutely not economical. they should cut 1 daily flight and continue to fly once per day by atr craft.

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  17. Anonymous @17.44

    As I said in my previous comment. OK adjusted their schedule to business and transit passengers, but have failed to adjust fares accordingly. It is unlikely that there are enough O&D passengers for two daily flights on BEG PRG route, but with conveniant schedule enough transit passengers could have been attracted, especially those who need to fly to some point in Europe on a morning flight today, to do the job at the destination and to return on a late evening flight tomorrow. From personal experience there are a lot of passengers who belong to that group but not willing to pay insane ammounts eg 700 euros for FRA or 800 to CDG like in OK offerings.

    Take for example AZ and their schedule on BEG MXP route until three years ago. 3 daily flights on board E170 all fully packed in each direction but with very few passengers getting off in MXP. Should I mention that was the time when strong visa system was in force?
    Whenever I was landing to MXP almost 90% of passengers were transiting to various destinations, as AZ was offering great connections with minimum time between the flights. And ticket prices were always reasonable.
    With the collapse of the old AZ and poor offer of the other sky team members from BEG, now OK pulling out such flights wil be in hands of LH and OS only at again high prices since both airlines are focused on long haul passengers showing less interest for those travelling to other points in Europe.
    As a frequent traveller I'm always happy to see competition growing, new flights or new airlines enabling better connections and better prices.
    So, anyone with good policy could attract enough passengers. My pleasant surprise was BT as when I heard about their intention to start BEG a year ago I was wandering who to hell would be flying them, as RIX is not in that conveniant geographical position to be transit point, neither had long haul flights, nor was attracting that many leisure travelers. But wise policy of their management made to attract enough passengers on the route making it profitable. So.. any who has an idea and know how to develop it will be succesfull!

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  18. Malév is very, very far from doing OK. They got approx. 60 billion HUF government money in the last 2 years. Without thay they'd be history. With -25 billion HUF loss and -8% pay just announced for 2010 they will not survive this year unless sold to chinese.

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  19. "-8% pax", sorry.

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  20. @last anonymous

    I was talking about Malev in Belgrade.


    Malev will never go bankrupt. The government bought it from the Russians become they were not running it properly. The Russians bascally destroyed Malev by acquiring those damn Crjs and cutting routes and opening new silly ones.
    The Hungarian government pays for Malev's debt and covers its losses which makes Brussels furious however i guess they dont really care.

    What I think might happen here is that we could see Malev shrink in the future unless something happens.

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  21. everyone, today the visa requirements for Ukraine- Serbia visas was lifted. I bet because of the anticipation of this, today Aerosvit sent their ERJ195 from Kiev to Belgrade via Sofia ( like a lot of times). How come on beg.aero airport website they dont show that there are flights from Belgrade to Sofia?

    I was reading that because of diaspora, people from Ukraine wanting to travel to Serbia, and Serbs wanting to travel to Ukraine - there will be many more travelers, also along with industrial needs. They might send bigger planes to BEG, and increase frequencies. Maybe send their 737's? I am expecting this lol.

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  22. CRJs were purchased years earlier. Hungarian gvmt. paid the russians not because they ran it improperly but because they have a big wheel out there which controls the gas pipes coming to Hungary. That simple. Now there's noone else who wish to invest into this disaster but chinese. Sorry for being off-topic this long.

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  23. @AleksNikolicUSA

    Why should they show flights to Sofia - there are none, this is just an unscheduled stop... when Aerosvit planes break down, they link several destinations together so as to carry all pax. Sometimes it's Sofia, sometimes Bucharest or Budapest.

    On that topic, Aerosvit is probably the airline with the worst on-time record in Belgrade. I don't think that a single flight of theirs landed or took off on time. I guess that the majority of their pax are transiting to intercontinental destinations, so I wonder how this impacts them.

    Btw, the visa waiver agreement was signed but needs to be ratified by both parliaments.

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  24. Regarding Prague, I agree with Straya, this is going to be opportunity for Wizzair to take over Prague destination as low as £50 return.

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  25. They have had some big expansion into Russia and the CIS, a funny thing to note is that they are cutting these routes so close to home, yet they are starting routes to Vietnam! Strange that the route will operate by Airbus A320-200 via Kazakhstan twice per week to Hanoi.

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  26. From what I've heard, there is a big Vietnamese community in the Czech republic. I just looked, and found that they are the third largest minority there, after the Slovaks and Romanians with 60.000 people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_people_in_the_Czech_Republic

    Unlike the former Yugoslavia, the rest of Europe has changed significantly since the fall of the wall.

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  27. Once again (I've stated it above already), OK never launched its flight to Hanoi! It was just an idea, which leaked into the public (probably on purpose to test the reactions) ... However, yes, you're right that there is a huge Vietnamese population in the Czech Republic (in 2009, there were 61,102 of them), but the biggest by far are Ukrainians (132,481), then Slovaks (75,210), with Vietnamese coming in third before Russians (29,976) ...

    Due to this large Vietnamese population, Vietnam Airlines actually looked into the possibility to begin flying into PRG, but they do not have enough planes at this moment, so they focus more on other European markets (CDG, LHR, FRA) for now ...

    So, once again, OK didn't launch its flight to Hanoi!

    On another note (I've lived in the Czech Republic for many years, so know something about OK and PRG), CSA seems to really struggle lately - it has left many markets (e.g. LHR) and significantly cut frequencies on many other routes. Also, while being a SkyTeam member, it stopped codesharing with AF on its PRG-CDG route (as a result of which there are now up to 13 flights a day on this route!), although it is not clear on whose initiative ... it claims to focus on Eastern markets (especially Russia, with e.g. up to 8 flights a day between PRG and SVO, including codeshared ones), but now there are rumors that Aeroflot will stop codesharing with OK from the winter timetable (only rumors as of now, though!) ... Anyway, OK's strategy seems to be very confused, launching new lines and then cancelling them (some of them even before they actually start flying - e.g. the recent launches to Novosibirsk or Kharkov) - all this does not really provide the customer with a feeling of flight security/consistency, which, in the long-run, might backfire.

    I myself am a frequent flyer with OK, but lately have not had the chance to fly them too often, as some of my flights got cancelled and if ZAG also gets the boot, then one less destination for me on OK ... I find all of this a pity as I've always been satisfied with the service (and the prices!) they provide!

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