|ČSA to launch flights from Prague to Zagreb, Sarajevo and Skopje in 2016|
ČSA Czech Airlines will resume services to the former Yugoslavia in 2016, more than three years after it suspended flights to the region. Jan Toth, ČSA's Director for Commerce, Alliances and Marketing, said yesterday that the airline plans to resume services to Zagreb, Sarajevo and Skopje this coming April and May. It marks a shift in policy for the airline, which in September said it had carried out a number of feasibility studies which showed that none of its previous destinations in the former Yugoslavia would be commercially viable. All of ČSA’s routes in the region were suspended in an attempt to curb losses, as the airline started putting a greater emphasis on point to point passengers rather than those transferring through Prague.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Toth said the airline plans to operate year-long flights to Zagreb, while Sarajevo and Skopje will be served on a seasonal summer basis. According to the airline, the flights will be scheduled so as to depart Prague in the evening and return the next morning. They are yet to be put on sale. Last year, Zagreb Airport's former Managing Director, Gonzalve de Cordoue, said the airport was in talks with the Czech carrier over its possible return to the Croatian capital. In September, Czech Airlines' spokesperson, Daniel Šabík, told EX-YU Aviation News, "Czech Airlines in 2010 or 2011, when it used to operate scheduled flights from Prague to Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade and Skopje, and Czech Airlines in 2015, are two different companies with different destination networks". He added, "Czech Airlines has undertaken a long and difficult restructuring, which has been approved and monitored by the European Commission. At the time, the company closed most of its unprofitable routes or those that no longer made sense and did not coincide with its plans. Czech Airlines used to focus on passengers transferring in Prague. Those travellers made up 75% of all passengers carried. During restructuring, Czech Airlines' passenger structure changed, as the company began to focus on point to point passengers. That’s why flights such as Skopje - Prague, which were fed mostly by transfer passengers, no longer made sense and were the first to be suspended".
Czech Airlines began its withdrawal from the former Yugoslavia in 2011 when it terminated its double daily flights to Belgrade. It followed suite with the closure of its six weekly Prague - Skopje service in 2012. Shortly after it relegated its flights to Zagreb and Ljubljana to its regional partner Central Connect Airlines (CCA). However, in the summer of 2012, CCA declared bankruptcy and ceased all operations. Zagreb was ČSA’s first international destination, launched back in 1930, with services operating on and off until 2012. There are currently no flights from Zagreb, Sarajevo and Skopje to Prague. On the other hand, both Adria Airways and Air Serbia serve the Czech capital from their respective hubs, with the Slovenian carrier maintaining three weekly flights on the route this winter, while its Serbian counterpart will operate ten weekly services.