Expect Prague Airport to return to pre-crisis levels by 2026. It will be harder for air traffic – ČT24 – Czech Television
Jan Klas, General Manager of Air Traffic Control, recalled in the program some steps that the company had to take during the pandemic. “In the beginning, we evaluated quarantine as the biggest risk. If it had a larger proportion of employees, it would be difficult to maintain even declining traffic. “It was necessary, for example, to obtain the import of medical devices abroad.
In the worst times, operating personnel were separated from other categories. In the end, the company must secure and maintain a large quarantine. He also mentioned classically that it was difficult to maintain the habits of the staff, so they had to add hours on the simulator to keep the traffic safe.
“Now there is a great challenge for us to be able to manage the gradual use of the operation, which fortunately is coming, without much fluctuations,” said the CEO. At present, traffic is at sixty percent of the pre-crisis period, although for the whole of this year it is still “well below fifty percent”.
What will aviation look like?
However, Klas does not know whether it will ever be possible to get air traffic above the pre-crisis level. Recovery from the crisis is now a priority, but aviation faces further challenges. For example, pressures associated with environmental expectations.
He mentioned that aviation is now perceived as a major polluter, so it will be important to improve its image. “It is important for air transport to defend its position.” In this context, he mentioned the departure from the largest types of aircraft and the transition to new generations of energy-saving machines. It could also be a chance for Prague that the concept of large mushrooms did not work very well.
Smartwings have survived and are evolving
Roman Vik, CEO and board member of Smartwings, said in the program that numerous predictions and thoughts that the airline would not survive were not fulfilled. He mentioned that with the help of Unimex Group shareholders, Smartwings can “fully saturate and reach a state where every second person who passes through Prague Airport enters Smartwings’ aircraft.”
He stressed that this way we can follow what the company did 24 years before the pandemic and can save it. He also mentioned the planned opening of new routes, for example to St. Petersburg, to London-Heathrow, to the main terminal of the airport in Dubai. There are also flights to Oman or Cape Verde. The company also flies to all the Canary Islands and provides connections to Egypt.
The airline received a state guarantee for a two billion commercial loan, “not a direct subsidy like most airlines in Europe.” Vik likened it to “we ride a normal bike, they ride an e-bike.” He added that they are still doing well. catch up, in some cases even catch up.
The company has a loan for six years and Vik believes that this period will be enough to fully saturate it and repay the loan to all participating commercial banks.