European airline consolidation continues: Czech Airlines takeover

After the insolvencies of alitalia, airberlin and Monarch Airlines this years, I expected other smaller regional airlines to follow. It looks like that happened sooner than I though. Czech Airlines, the struggling flag carrier of the Czech Republic is being bought out by Travel Services, a local corporation that owns leisure, charter and budget transportation.

Travel Services previously held a 34% stake in the airline and announced that they have agreed to purchase the stakes held by the Czech State (20%) and Korean Airlines (44%) for full control of the airline.

Czech Airlines was founded in 1923 and recently served 50 destinations, mostly in Europe, with a fleet of 18 planes. They have 1 Airbus A330 to serve Seoul, the hub of their (previous) largest shareholder and Riyadh. 
Travel Service services 92 destinations with a fleet of 36 planes, both under their own name and the SmartWings brand. They also operate a small fleet of business jets for rent. 

It appears that going forward, Travel Service is planning to operate all of their flights under the SmartWings brand. It’s unclear if that will include the Czech Airlines flights in the future as well or if the Czech Air brand will be maintained. You can find more information on this deal at Skift!

The European market is served by a much larger number of airlines compared to the US, suggesting that their is room for further consolidation. While too much consolidation is likely to lead to higher prices due to a lack of competition, having a airlines that are large enough to compete globally is important as well. I will keep watching the space and keep you posted on the developments! 

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