14. 2. 2007 - ČSA Collects the First of this Year's New Airbuses in Toulouse
Prague, February 14, 2007
Czech Airlines (ČSA) is in the process of collecting its first new Airbus A320 from this year's production of the factory in Toulouse. The handover of the new plane is expected to be completed by Thursday, February 15. After the plane's relocation to Prague, the aircraft will undergo another final round of inspections and it will then be put into regular service, starting at the end of the month. The new plane will initially be put into service on medium-haul routes such as ČSA's regular flights to Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Between February and the end of April, ČSA will collect a total of three new Airbus A320s and – for the first time – two new Airbus A319s. These new additions to the airline's fleet are five out of the twelve new planes to be acquired under the October 2004 tender for the acquisition of medium-haul aircraft. ČSA acquired the first of these new A320s in 2006 and the manufacturer will deliver the last four of the aircraft in 2008.
The new planes are replacing the airline's current Boeing 737s, which will be returned to the leasing company after the end of their leases. In April and May, the airline will be returning four smaller Boeing 737-500s, which have a passenger capacity of 108, and one Boeing 737-400, designed to carry 162 passengers. These planes will be replaced by this year's three new Airbus A320s, each of which is designed to carry 162 passengers, and the two smaller Airbus A319s, which are designed for just 135 passengers. All in all, due to these changes, ČSA will be adding a total of 200 seats of flight capacity to its medium haul fleet – just in time for the summer travel season.
Due to the ongoing nature of its process of upgrading the airline's medium distance fleet, ČSA has been able to extend its guarantee for the financing of the newly acquired Airbus A320/319 aircraft, which was provided to Czech Airlines in early February by the European Export Credit Agencies (ECAs). "The decision to extend the guarantee was made based on the company's last year's results and based on the approved 2007 business plan prepared by the company's new senior management. The business plan anticipates increased earnings and further reductions in costs," said Luboš Černý, ČSA's Vice-President for Finance. ČSA's 'New Strategy' and the business plan approved for 2007 were presented by the airline's management to ECA's bankers and experts at the end of last year in Berlin.
The new Airbus A320/319 aircraft will be powered by engines manufactured by the CFM International S.A. consortium. For all of the new planes, ČSA opted for the combined business and economy class layout. The planes will also be equipped with the latest onboard communications technologies, including equipment providing current flight information, and a state of the art audiovisual system with overhead LCD screens for passengers.
These new generation airplanes offer a higher level of passenger comfort due to the more spacious design of their passenger cabins and the additional overhead space for luggage.
The new planes have a 1,200 km greater range than ČSA's existing medium distance fleet and they can fly roughly five percent faster than the older generation Boeing 737 aircraft that they are replacing. The Airbus A320/319 also comes with lower operating costs due to it greater fuel economy, reduced maintenance costs and better performance on short runways. The A320/319 is also environmentally friendlier – meeting stricter noise and emission standards than the planes it replaces. From a commercial perspective, these planes have a substantially greater carrying capacity.
The entire process of handing over the new aircraft by Airbus SAS is normally stretched out over a period of four days. The new A320s are picked up in Toulouse, France and the A319s are picked up in Hamburg, Germany. Present during the picking up of the new planes are the employees of ČSA's Aircraft Technology and Technical Inspection sections. The members of the airline's aircraft acquisition department and the pilots are also present during the pickup. The delivery of the new aircraft must also be attended by a representative of the Czech Civil Aviation Authority. The handover involves a so-called 'static ground inspection', which includes a checkup of the aircraft's exterior and interior components and systems. This is followed up by a 'ground engine test', a series of other system tests and a test flight. After all technical and flight documentation and certifications for the aircraft have been reviewed and handed over to the new owner and after all other formalities have been taken care of, ČSA's own flight crew takes over and flies the aircraft to Prague.