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Travel Service to acquire almost all of Czech Airlines

Czech Airlines is to be taken over by rival operator Travel Service, following an agreement by Korean Air and asset-management firm Prisko to dispose of their stakes in the flag-carrier.

Travel Service, which already had a 34% share of Czech Airlines, will become the majority shareholder by increasing this stake to 97.74%.

Prisko, which is a government-linked entity, could still opt to withdraw from the agreement, which would leave Travel Service with a reduced majority of about 78%.

Travel Service says the investment is in line with its long-term strategy to become a "prominent and widely-respected airline group" within the European market.

Korean Air took a surprise shareholding in Czech Airlines, its SkyTeam alliance partner, in 2013 – becoming its largest shareholder in the process.

No financial details of the Travel Service transaction have been disclosed.

But Travel Service says the acquisition should be completed within three months of securing the various regulatory approvals.

Travel Service has long been interested in Czech Airlines, following the decision by the Czech government to privatise the carrier.

Chairman Jiri Simane says it aims to create a "strong" airline with around 70-80 aircraft.

Czech Airlines turned in a full-year profit after tax of Kc241 million for 2016 while Travel Service's annual report for 2016 gives a profit after tax of Kc193 million.

Travel Service, which also operates the SmartWings brand of budget airline flights, is undertaking a fleet renewal with orders for 30 Boeing 737 Max jets.

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