Czech Airlines to reinstate long-haul with leased A330

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Czech Airlines is to acquire an Airbus A330 next year with which it plans to reinstate long-haul services, initially to Korea.

The SkyTeam alliance member is also looking at using the twinjet on flights to former Soviet states.

Czech Airlines has not disclosed the source of the aircraft but states that the jet will be used to open operations to Seoul in co-operation with SkyTeam partner Korean Air.

The flag-carrier withdrew from long-haul operations in 2009 when a restructuring of its network led it to remove its Airbus A310s from scheduled service.

It has since embarked on partnerships, such as its tie-up with Etihad Airways, to reach destinations beyond Europe. Czech Airlines says the co-operation with Korean Air will be based on a similar model.

Czech Airlines will take the A330 under an operating lease in June 2013, and use it to serve Prague-Seoul twice weekly, supplementing Korean Air's four-times weekly service on the route.

"We have been analysing Eastern markets since the beginning of our restructuring, looking for ways to develop in that direction," says the carrier's president, Philippe Moreels.

"Developments confirm our belief that the future of the aviation business lies in connections to Asia."

The carrier says it also intends to use the twinjet on its most popular routes, adding that it is looking at putting the A330 on services to CIS countries. Among the former Soviet capitals on its network are Minsk, Tashkent, Tbilisi and Yerevan.

Czech Airlines is also intending to open new services to Perm, Nice, Munich, Zurich and Florence as part of its summer 2013 schedule.