Moderators: jsumali2, richierich, ua900, PanAm_DC10, hOMSaR

 
MettP
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 2:11 pm

Quite a suprising news was announced today, concretely that CSA Czech Airlines (OK) are launching an old-new route between Prague and London-Heathrow from June 25th. Last time they flew the route was in 2010, when they sold their slots to BA for about 15 million euros. They didn't reveal how they managed to obtain slots now, calling it a business secret, most likely they rented it from some airline, which is currently struggling. Unfortunately flight tickets are not available for purchase yet nor are there any information about flight times, the company is reportedly waiting for government permission to start the flights. It will be interesting to see if an OK plane really touches down at LHR, especially in context of the threat of mandatory self-isolation for everyone arriving to the UK from abroad.

Here a link to the news (in Czech), posted on official website of Smartwings Group, the owner of Czech Airlines: https://www.smartwings.com/smartwings-g ... a-heathrow
 
User avatar
CarbonFibre
Posts: 713
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:02 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 2:46 pm

Article disappears when converted to English!
 
PlymSpotter
Posts: 10710
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 7:32 am

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 2:52 pm

It may not necessarily be a slot lease - although it is quite likely to be the case, probably from a fellow SkyTeam member like DL to slot warm.

After 10 years of absence, they would qualify for 'free' slots under the Heathrow New Entrant scheme. Considering the expected drop in traffic, Heathrow are probably more bullish about attracting new carriers to slot into newly available capacity.
...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
 
SeanM1997
Posts: 416
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:27 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 3:01 pm

If anyone has got timings for this route - please can you DM me on twitter @SeanM1997. A link for info would be helpful too. Thanks :)
 
CALMSP
Posts: 3187
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 3:18 am

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 3:02 pm

wow, hadn't realized they had not been flying to LHR. Of course, been some time since I've been in the SkyTEAM terminal.
 
onwFan
Posts: 432
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:02 am

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 4:08 pm

This is indeed a nice development, if it comes to fruition. It would be even better if even LHR prioritizes bringing in flag carriers that currently serve LGW from countries/airports that don’t have nonstop service to to LHR. This would provide LHR the ability to better capture business traffic, while at the same time providing transfer passengers from those countries with access to a more international hub. Examples that come to my mind include Belavia, UIA, airBaltic, Air Moldova, China Airlines, RwandAir, Montenegro Airlines, etc.
 
Blerg
Posts: 3974
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:42 am

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 4:11 pm

I remember a time when OK was a respected and reliable carrier people loved to fly on. Today I don't even know who and what they are, where they fly and what kind of service they offer. They have become quite bland. What's their strategy anyway?
 
MettP
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 4:53 pm

Blerg wrote:
I remember a time when OK was a respected and reliable carrier people loved to fly on. Today I don't even know who and what they are, where they fly and what kind of service they offer. They have become quite bland. What's their strategy anyway?

The strategy is generally to fly frequently between Prague and main European cities, offering better schedule than low-cost competitors for P2P traffic.

They went through hard times after the financial crisis and after years of decline and changes of owners they were purchased by Smartwings Group in 2018. At first it didn't look well, Smartwings Group for example transferred rights for most routes between Prague and Russia under the Smartwings airline (QS), because OK had very few planes under their ACMI. But recently the situation improved, 6 A220s and 3 A321XLRs were ordered for OK, intending to resume Transatlantic flights and they started to make profits again. There was also a plan for leasing a few A320s this year, the first one arrived in February (OK-HEU), but obviously all this expansion is now halted and future relatively uncertain. On the other hand the whole group is healthy in financial terms, with no debts and there is a chance that Smartwings will get generous compensation for the problems with 737 MAX, they had almost 40 of them on order and it very negatively affected their expansion plans.
 
Blerg
Posts: 3974
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:42 am

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 5:08 pm

MettP wrote:
Blerg wrote:
I remember a time when OK was a respected and reliable carrier people loved to fly on. Today I don't even know who and what they are, where they fly and what kind of service they offer. They have become quite bland. What's their strategy anyway?

The strategy is generally to fly frequently between Prague and main European cities, offering better schedule than low-cost competitors for P2P traffic.

They went through hard times after the financial crisis and after years of decline and changes of owners they were purchased by Smartwings Group in 2018. At first it didn't look well, Smartwings Group for example transferred rights for most routes between Prague and Russia under the Smartwings airline (QS), because OK had very few planes under their ACMI. But recently the situation improved, 6 A220s and 3 A321XLRs were ordered for OK, intending to resume Transatlantic flights and they started to make profits again. There was also a plan for leasing a few A320s this year, the first one arrived in February (OK-HEU), but obviously all this expansion is now halted and future relatively uncertain. On the other hand the whole group is healthy in financial terms, with no debts and there is a chance that Smartwings will get generous compensation for the problems with 737 MAX, they had almost 40 of them on order and it very negatively affected their expansion plans.


Interesting, thank you. So they are focusing on P2P? What's their fleet structure like these days? I remember when they used to have Atr-42 some years ago, the were great for their regional flights. It's a shame they never managed to profit from MA's demise.
 
MettP
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 5:32 pm

Yes, today they are definitely focused on P2P. Their only long-haul flight was PRG-ICN with their sole A333 (remaining from the period when they were partially owned by KE), which generated some transfer passengers, but it won't be resumed and they are returning the A333 to KE. ATR42 were phased out last year, together with the termination of PRG-BTS and PRG-OSR, which weren't profitable.

Otherwise they have 6 A319s, 5 ATR72s and a single B738 (leased from QS). And that single "new" A320, which should have gotten some peers hadn't it been for current crisis. Hard to say how they will emerge, the question is if there is space for a small regional P2P airline in Central Europe, with the competition from LO, LH and low-cost airlines. But considering how popular is Prague as a destination, the strategy makes sense and they should be able to fill even the Transatlantic flights with P2P passengers, using the relatively small A321XLRs. They were talking about JFK, BOS and YUL as potential destinations.
 
MettP
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 5:47 pm

SeanM1997 wrote:
If anyone has got timings for this route - please can you DM me on twitter @SeanM1997. A link for info would be helpful too. Thanks :)

The schedule should be 11.40-12:50 and 13.35-16.40. But it is an unverified info shared on one czech aviation forum. Goes well along with the strategy to attract leisure travellers, early arrivals and late departures are uncomfortable because of hotel check-in/check-out times...
 
cedarjet
Posts: 8788
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 7:27 pm

Sorry to learn the CSA A330 isn’t staying. I love a little airline with a long haul route. Was a good effort, shame it had to end.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
MettP
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 7:51 pm

cedarjet wrote:
Sorry to learn the CSA A330 isn’t staying. I love a little airline with a long haul route. Was a good effort, shame it had to end.

It needed some major service works, which CSA wanted the lessor to do, but KE weren't willing to, so they decided to return the aircraft. It is a pity, the route was very profitable, but of course in today's situation it would take lot of time to reach that profits again. But it is possible that OK will lease some long-haul aircraft when it makes sense again. Or in 2025 they will get that ordered A321XLRs, by that time aviation will hopefully be in shape again...
 
Blerg
Posts: 3974
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:42 am

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 8:08 pm

MettP wrote:
cedarjet wrote:
Sorry to learn the CSA A330 isn’t staying. I love a little airline with a long haul route. Was a good effort, shame it had to end.

It needed some major service works, which CSA wanted the lessor to do, but KE weren't willing to, so they decided to return the aircraft. It is a pity, the route was very profitable, but of course in today's situation it would take lot of time to reach that profits again. But it is possible that OK will lease some long-haul aircraft when it makes sense again. Or in 2025 they will get that ordered A321XLRs, by that time aviation will hopefully be in shape again...


Can an A321XLR even make it from PRG to ICN? The flight is probably around 10 hours. It's not really that close.
 
MettP
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 8:35 pm

Theoretically yes, A321XLR's range is 4 700 nautical miles and PRG-ICN is 4450 nautical miles. But they are definitely meant to fly to the USA/Canada. If OK want to resume ICN, they will likely lease a widebody. The supply of used aircrafts will be plentiful now...
 
User avatar
lesfalls
Posts: 3362
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 9:17 pm

MettP wrote:
Yes, today they are definitely focused on P2P. Their only long-haul flight was PRG-ICN with their sole A333 (remaining from the period when they were partially owned by KE), which generated some transfer passengers, but it won't be resumed and they are returning the A333 to KE. ATR42 were phased out last year, together with the termination of PRG-BTS and PRG-OSR, which weren't profitable.

Otherwise they have 6 A319s, 5 ATR72s and a single B738 (leased from QS). And that single "new" A320, which should have gotten some peers hadn't it been for current crisis. Hard to say how they will emerge, the question is if there is space for a small regional P2P airline in Central Europe, with the competition from LO, LH and low-cost airlines. But considering how popular is Prague as a destination, the strategy makes sense and they should be able to fill even the Transatlantic flights with P2P passengers, using the relatively small A321XLRs. They were talking about JFK, BOS and YUL as potential destinations.


I don't mean to sound unkowlegable but what does P2P mean? Do you mean VFR in this case?
Lufthansa: Einfach ein bisschen besser.
 
Breathe
Posts: 662
Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:06 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 9:21 pm

MettP wrote:
Theoretically yes, A321XLR's range is 4 700 nautical miles and PRG-ICN is 4450 nautical miles. But they are definitely meant to fly to the USA/Canada. If OK want to resume ICN, they will likely lease a widebody. The supply of used aircrafts will be plentiful now...

Nice to hear some positive news amongst all the doom and gloom.

As you say, there isn't going to be a shortage of widebody aircraft to lease now. In fact they'd probably be able to pick and choose what they want and get probably more importantly, at the price they want.
 
User avatar
OA260
Posts: 24272
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 8:50 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 9:46 pm

Good news hope it works for them this time. Always remember seeing them at LHR back to when they operated their TU’s . They were quite a large airline back then.
 
User avatar
bombayduck
Posts: 248
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:31 pm

Re: OK returning to LHR

Thu May 28, 2020 10:12 pm

I believe P2P means point 2 point flying.
 
Blerg
Posts: 3974
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:42 am

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Fri May 29, 2020 5:02 am

So what kind of product do they offer? Buy on board?
 
slcdeltarumd11
Posts: 4702
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2004 7:30 am

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Fri May 29, 2020 5:22 am

It would make sense for a fellow skyteam member to offer these. No one wants to fly long haul right now, they can fly this route much easier and maybe see demand back sooner.
 
MettP
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Fri May 29, 2020 5:39 am

Blerg wrote:
So what kind of product do they offer? Buy on board?

Mainly yes. But they have one “speciality”, concretely that even with the cheapest economy ticket, one can pre-order the so-called “gourmet menu” for 14€ and is then treated as a business class customer service-wise. Which means getting a very good hot meal, salad, dessert, drinks including alcoholic and all that served on porcelain and in glass. Unfortunately very few people know about this possibility and complain about OK service, because for free you get only water, but the price for this menu is very reasonable and I don’t know any airline which would offer such high-quality service in economy. It is a pity that OK don’t promote it more, they are really incapable in marketing...

A picture for illustration:
Image
 
Blerg
Posts: 3974
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:42 am

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Fri May 29, 2020 5:41 am

MettP wrote:
Blerg wrote:
So what kind of product do they offer? Buy on board?

Mainly yes. But they have one “speciality”, concretely that even with the cheapest economy ticket, one can pre-order the so-called “gourmet menu” for 14€ and is then treated as a business class customer service-wise. Which means getting a very good hot meal, salad, dessert, drinks including alcoholic and all that served on porcelain and in glass. Unfortunately very few people know about this possibility and complain about OK service, because for free you get only water, but the price for this menu is very reasonable and I don’t know any airline which would offer such high-quality service in economy. It is a pity that OK don’t promote it more, they are really incapable in marketing...

A picture for illustration:
Image


That looks really good, I have to admit. I love the old logo on the glass. It's such a shame they didn't bring it back, the current one seems odd.

So do they have a business class product or is it all economy?
 
bahadir
Posts: 1346
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2001 4:57 pm

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Fri May 29, 2020 6:14 am

Flew then ICN - PRG last year in Business. Service was Ok. Not at the level of Korean of course. Despite the millions of tourists we get here in Prague there isn’t much of them flown by CSA. I think doing a codeshare with DL and running flights to JFK might work for them. There will be a lot of A330s in the market soon.
Earthbound misfit I
 
MettP
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Fri May 29, 2020 8:20 am

Blerg wrote:
... So do they have a business class product or is it all economy?

They do, but the business class cabin is "flexible" on their short-haul aircraft, meaning you get seated in front of the cabin with the middle seat blocked, the legroom is the same as in the rest of the plane though. But most airlines in Europe do the same nowadays. Anyway, the product as a whole is still all right, the crew treats business class passengers well and you of course get all the other business class perks as everywhere.
 
Ishrion
Posts: 2672
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:17 am

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Mon Jun 01, 2020 5:29 am

Details: https://www.routesonline.com/news/38/ai ... june-2020/

OK650 PRG1140 – 1250LHR 738 D
OK651 LHR1335 – 1640PRG 738 D
 
skipness1E
Posts: 4783
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:18 am

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:22 am

It’s the old flight numbers too!
 
Blerg
Posts: 3974
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:42 am

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:08 am

What was their old LHR schedule? I guess these were the only slots they could get as I suppose morning or afternoon flights would be better.
 
SueD
Posts: 238
Joined: Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:35 am

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:50 am

Berg why worry it’s not like they offer anything much beyond Prague and it will be a crappy Smartwings/Travel Service 737 anyway .

It pretty much O And D in both directions and a recovery of a slot pair each day in the current down turn . And probably replaces their Gatwick Travel Service operation .

Come the upturn in eighteen months or so they will get priced out again that’s for sure .

Can’t remember them even operating multiple dailies into Heathrow .

They main partners are AF/KL oh and Aeroflot
 
Blerg
Posts: 3974
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:42 am

Re: Czech Airlines returning to LHR

Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:55 am

SueD wrote:
Berg why worry it’s not like they offer anything much beyond Prague and it will be a crappy Smartwings/Travel Service 737 anyway .

It pretty much O And D in both directions and a recovery of a slot pair each day in the current down turn . And probably replaces their Gatwick Travel Service operation .

Come the upturn in eighteen months or so they will get priced out again that’s for sure .

Can’t remember them even operating multiple dailies into Heathrow .

They main partners are AF/KL oh and Aeroflot


Interesting, thank you.

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos