Israir Group has indicated that it is still interested in pursuing Czech carrier Smartwings, but that its previous proposed transaction might need to be amended.

The Israeli leisure operator has been involved in drawn-out talks to acquire Smartwings, the ownership of which is split between Czech investors and a Chinese company, CITIC China, linked to the country’s economics ministry.

Israir Group had advanced a deposit to CITIC, as part of negotiations to take over its 49.9% shareholding, but this was eventually returned in mid-February, after the talks ended as a result of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East.

The carrier believes, however, that the stalled acquisition could be revived, indicating that the Czech shareholders in Smartwings are in the process of purchasing the CITIC stake.

Smartwings 737-c-Smartwings

Source: Smartwings

Israir Group believes acquiring Smartwings will enhance its tourism business

Israir Group suggests the Czech shareholders “intend to renew the negotiations” for the sale of part, or all, of their holdings in Smartwings during the second quarter of this year.

But it adds that, given the changes that have occurred over the duration of the previous negotiations, the transaction could “change accordingly”.

Smartwings operates around 45 single-aisle aircraft, wet-leasing a number of them, and has European licences in several countries including Poland and Hungary.

Israir Group says that, if a transaction is completed, it does not intend to change the operating model of Smartwings.

But it aims to introduce the artificial intelligence-based technology which manages Israir’s commercial aspects.

It adds that Smartwings is profitable, and the purchase of shares in the Czech carrier will lead to consolidation of its financial results with those of Israir.

Israir Group has disclosed a full-year operating profit of $16.4 million, and a net profit of $18.3 million, on revenues of just under $390 million for the 12 months to 31 December 2023.