Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

Czech Airlines (CSA) is planning to set up a charter subsidiary which will start operating at the beginning of 1998.

According to CSA charter department manager Tomas Jandecka, a business plan is now being prepared which should be finished by the middle of this month. After approval by CSA management, the new company will apply for its operator's licence which it hopes to receive three months later.

The as-yet-unnamed firm will start with four Tupolev Tu-154Ms, which it is buying from its parent. CSA has been flying the aircraft on charter routes since 1 April, and the new subsidiary will pay up to CKr300 million ($8.8 million) for the aircraft, says Jandecka.

He adds that the new airline hopes to expand the fleet with two leased Boeing 737s within five years. These aircraft will probably be secondhand -300s, but larger -400s are also under consideration.

Jandecka says that CSA's charter business is growing at a rate of 10-12% a year, and already brings in 10% of CSA's revenue. In 1996, the airline carried 220,000 charter passengers, and expects this to grow to 270,000 this year.

The main destinations to be served will be in the Mediterranean, but the airline is also in talks with Dutch carrier Martinair and Germany's Condor over joint ticketing, which would allow the new charter operator to feed passengers into long-haul flights from Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

Jandecka says that he expects the new carrier to become profitable within four years, after covering its start-up costs, including the purchase of the aircraft. CSA is aiming to cover one-third of the Czech charter market.

Source: Flight International