Russian carrier Aeroflot has officially registered its interest in Czech Airlines' privatisation, joining fellow SkyTeam member Air France which confirmed its intent to participate in the process earlier today.
Sheremetyevo-based Aeroflot, which has previously shown an informal interest in the Czech carrier, says it has submitted its paperwork ahead of the tender closure deadline later today.
Aeroflot CEO Valery Okulov says: "Czech Airlines is the largest and most stable airline in central Europe in economic and market terms. By joining and mutually expanding their route networks, Aeroflot and Czech Airlines will be able to become more profitable.
"The synergy is certainly there. We started our co-operation long before any global alliances appeared. We have even more in common now that both belong to the same global alliance, SkyTeam."
© Philippe Noret/AirTeamImages.com
Both would-be airline bidders, Air France and Aeroflot, are SkyTeam members, but an Aeroflot spokeswoman says: "This is a stand-alone Aeroflot bid. This will not be a joint SkyTeam effort."
Just over 91% of Czech Airlines has been put up for tender by the Czech finance ministry although, as a non-European Union participant, Aeroflot's potential participation is capped at 49%. Aeroflot is therefore aiming to partner with a Czech-owned company or legal entity as part of the second stage of the privatisation.
Under Aeroflot's vision, Czech Airlines' national carrier status, brand, identity, traditions and Prague base would be maintained. It claims that Czech Airlines will gain a much wider scale of operations through the tie-up, with improved Russian and CIS transit prospects. Aeroflot's European network will also be strengthened.
Despite its interest in the Czech SkyTeam member, Aeroflot is not planning to pursue Prague Ruzyne Airport's privatisation. "Aeroflot will stick to its business which is to run air transportation, not airports," it says.