Andrzej Jeziorski/PRAGUE

CZECH AIRLINES (CSA), which had to be bailed out by its state owner in 1994, is forecasting that it should be back in profit by 1997.

The airline believes that it is back on course for recovery after cutting net losses by around CKr1 billion ($38 million) in 1994. The final loss is expected to be in the region of CKr560-590 million when official results are released at the end of April.

CSA, which has now dropped Czechoslovakia from its name, had to receive emergency loans in 1994 to help it meet lease payments on Western aircraft. In November, the Czech Government provided an interest-free loan of CKr586 million to help pay for leases on five Boeing 737-500s, while the Konsolidacni bank gave funding for two Airbus A310-300s. Unfavourable terms on the Airbus leases, since renegotiated, were a major contributor to CSA's financial crisis.

The Konsolidacni bank also took over a 19% stake in the airline in March 1994, after CSA ended its partnership with Air France. CSA says that it is now looking for a strong Czech partner and that, while it does not rule out a future foreign partnership, it will not happen for at least "two or three years".

The latest Western aircraft arriving in the CSA fleet are two ex-Malaysian Airways Boeing 737-400s on five-year lease from GPA, one of which will be dedicated to charter operations to the Mediterranean.

CSA has now grounded all six of its 25-year-old Ilyushin Il-62s and is looking for buyers for these aircraft. Four Tupolev Tu-134s will be phased out of service by early 1997.

Source: Flight International