Eastern European flag carrier CSA Czech Airlines is to resume flights between its base at Prague’s Václav Havel International Airport and Cork Airport in the Republic of Ireland. The route will operate on a twice weekly basis and add an additional 13,000 seats available to the schedule of the Irish airport next summer.
The announcement marks the return of regular air services on the route which has been served both by Czech Airlines and Aer Lingus over the past ten years. The Czech national carrier and SkyTeam alliance member previously operated in this market up to January 2007 but suspended its operations shortly after Aer Lingus began its own flights in October 2006. The Irish carrier’s flights only lasted two years, however, and the route was closed in November 2008.
“This announcement is an excellent development for Cork Airport and the passengers we serve,” said Niall MacCarthy, managing director, Cork Airport. “This new route will be hugely beneficial for tourism and business across the wider south of Ireland region.”
Cork Airport is one of the key international gateways to the south of Ireland. Welcoming over 6,000 passengers a day, and more than 11,000 passengers a day in peak season, it is the country’s second busiest after Dublin. More than 2.2 million passengers travel through the Airport each year, flying to over 50 destinations across the UK and throughout continental Europe.
“The people who support Cork Airport as Ireland’s second largest airport serving 2.2 million passengers annually demand greater connectivity and this decision by a network carrier such as CSA Czech Airlines is a welcome boost,” said MacCarthy.
According to MacCarthy this could be the first of a number of new routes being introduced from Cork Airport through 2015 and he confirmed that the airport aviation development team will begin “working closely” with the Czech Airlines to develop the business relationship and “seek out further opportunities for expansion”.
For Czech Airlines this will be its only route into Ireland after the carrier closed its long-standing route to the capital Dublin. This year-round service was reduced to a seasonal summer offering from summer 2010 but was closed the following year after a short three month season of flights.
The analysis, above, highlights how the closure of the Czech Airlines routes to Ireland impacted non-stop capacity in and out of this market. Although links between Ireland and Czech Republic have been maintained by Aer Lingus and more recently Ryanair - with flights between Dublin and Prague - the available capacity has fallen from a peak during the second half of the 2000s.
"After a year planning cuts we are to expand the existing transport network of Czech Airlines in the summer season of 2015. In the new destinations we see an interesting business potential of which we would like to take full advantage,” said CSA Czech Airlines Jozef Sinčák, chairman, CSA Czech Airlines.
Alongside the new seasonal Cork route, which will launch from May 14, 2015, Czech Airlines will also introduce summer flights to Oslo (daily from March 30, 2015) and Bilbao (twice weekly from June 4, 2015) and year-round flights from March 29, 2015 to Billund (four times weekly, partly in association with the new Oslo service) and Bologna (four times weekly) as well as Kaliningrad and Kazan, in an expanded flight schedule.
“We have set the new destinations timetables in a way to best use the market potential and at the same time appeal to both local and transfer passengers as the connections were designed with the customers’ priorities in mind. We will operate all new destinations using the existing free capacity of Czech Airlines and thus improve the fleet use,” added Sinčák.