Czech Airlines (ČSA) began resuming regular operations May 18 with routes to Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Due to the coronavirus crisis, the carrier stopped all scheduled flights to and from the Czech Republic in mid-March.
The first plane to depart was destined for Paris, and it left Václav Havel Airport Prague at 7:08 am.
The airline previously announced that the launch of the first routes would depend on travel conditions to selected countries. The first wave includes countries that do not heavily restrict the entry of foreigners.
Flights to Stockholm should start May 21 and to Bucharest from May 25. Flights to Kyiv and Odessa were also supposed to start May 24 and May 25, but now according to booking information are only available from June 3 and 4, respectively.
“After a long break of over two months, you can again see some of our regular flights on the departure board of Prague Airport. Today we renewed routes to Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Stockholm will follow on Thursday. And do you know what the last flight was like before the temporary suspension of operations? It was an evening flight from Brussels to Prague, which took place on Sunday, March 15.” ČSA said on Facebook.
For some routes, ČSA will deploy the turboprop ATR-72 instead of an Airbus A320 due to the small number of seats sold.
The carrier said it would be applying measures aboard its aircraft to ensure flying remains safe. “The most significant actions include the obligation of passengers to cover their nose and mouth with sufficient protective gear (face mask) prior to boarding the aircraft and throughout the flight, social distancing (maintaining a two-meter gap between passengers during boarding and disembarking the aircraft) and contactless payments for purchases of in-flight refreshments,” ČSA said in a press release.
“Strict hygienic standards are followed aboard aircraft. The interiors undergo a thorough disinfection process before and after each flight according to the strictest hygienic rules and regulations, including seats, tray tables, seat pockets, overhead lockers and lavatories,” the carrier added.
The first carrier to resume flights from Václav Havel Airport was Eurowings Airlines on May 3 with connections to Düssledorf. A day later, KLM started daily flights to Amsterdam every day. There are flights to Minsk from Belavia and to Sofia from Bulgaria Air.
The Smartwings group, which includes ČSA belongs, in March stopped all scheduled flights to and from the Czech Republic, leaving over 90 percent of its fleet on the ground. The entire group, which includes a foreign division in addition to Czech carriers, transported 4,900 passengers in April, which is about 1% compared to the same period last year, according to the Czech News Agency (ČTK).
During March and April, Smartwings in agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent several repatriation flights for Czech citizens abroad, as well as other flights for medical devices from China.
The Czech government has been discussing state aid to help Smartwings overcome the financial issues related to the coronavirus.
Smartwings Group belongs to the Unimex Group, which is owned by entrepreneurs Jiří Šimáně and Jaromír Šmejkal. The Chinese investment company Citic Europe holds less than half of the carrier. The group includes carriers Smartwings and ČSA. Last year, the group carried 8.2 million passengers on its routes.