07. 05. 2009 - Czech Airlines Continues to Upgrade its Fleet: Another New Airbus A319 Arriving Today

Prague, 7 May 2009

Czech Airlines is continuing in the renewal of its aircraft fleet.  Before the start of the main summer season, the Airline will lease a brand-new Airbus A319 aircraft, which will arrive in Prague this evening.  Another new airplane will supplement the fleet next year.  Czech Airlines will use the new plane primarily on longer medium-haul routes, such as on flights to Almaty, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Damascus, and Tel Aviv.

New aircraft are essential for our airline.  This is not an expansion of the fleet, but rather a replacement of an older aircraft with a new one that is more efficient and has lower operating costs.  That is why we are continuing to renew our fleet even this year, i.e., in the midst of an economic crisis, which is naturally not too favourable for investments,” said Czech Airlines President Radomír Lašák, adding: “The manufacture of an aircraft in a configuration customised for an airline is a long-term matter.  The new airplane that we will welcome to our fleet today was ordered last year.

The aircraft will supplement the Airbus A320 family fleet, which now includes eight Airbus A320 aircraft, configured for 162 passengers; six Airbus A319 aircraft, which accommodate 135 passengers; and two Airbus A321 charter specials, which carry up to 212 passengers.  The choice of the new-generation, medium-haul Airbus A319/320 aircraft as the future backbone plane of the Czech Airlines fleet was made through a tender that took place in 2004.  From this tender, Czech Airlines has already taken delivery of 12 brand¬-new aircraft.  Furthermore, the Airline has decided to exercise an advantageous option for another eight aircraft of this type, to be delivered in 2011 – 2012.

The new aircraft are gradually replacing the classic-generation Boeing 737s that still prevail in the fleet, and which the Airline has operated since 1992.  The Airbus A319 obtained this year will serve as a direct replacement of a Boeing B737-400 aircraft that was returned to the lessor this spring, in accordance with its lease agreement.  The costs associated with the acquisition of the new aircraft correspond to the present situation on the market in new aircraft.  Thanks to the features of the new modern Airbus A319 airplane that enable its greater utilisation, there will be no increased financial burden on Czech Airlines.

The continuation of the gradual replacement of the outgoing Boeing B737 as the backbone type in the fleet, with the more modern, new-generation Airbus A320/319, will lead to a further unification of the Czech Airlines fleet, which will significantly reduce the costs of maintenance and operations.  With the planned replacement, the average age of medium-haul aircraft in 2012 should be approximately seven years.

The renewal of the medium-haul fleet will continue this year through operative leasing, unlike in previous years, when Czech Airlines obtained new aircraft through financial leasing.  The Airline will obtain both aircraft for terms of nine years, from the Irish corporation BOC Aviation Limited.  The aircraft will be delivered directly from the Airbus plant in Hamburg, Germany, and will be configured specifically for Czech Airlines, i.e., with 135 seats in two classes – Business and Economy.

Czech Airlines deploys the Airbus A319s, i.e., its most modern aircraft, on its priority routes, such as the connections between Prague and Brussels, Barcelona, Madrid, and Amsterdam, as well as Odessa, Sofia, Riga, and Samara.  The aircraft also fly to new destinations that Czech Airlines introduced in 2008, such as Tbilisi, Rostov-on-Don, and Damascus.

The Arrival of the New Aircraft
The new airplane will land in Prague this evening.  Upon its arrival, a technical inspection will be carried out and the plane will be fitted with such standard features as Czech Airlines emergency equipment, labelling in Czech, etc.  The new aircraft will be deployed on its first flight on Sunday morning, when it will set out on the route to Tel Aviv, Israel.

The acceptance of a new aircraft from the manufacturer usually takes four days.  It involves employees of Czech Airlines and representatives of the Czech Civil Aviation Authority.  A static inspection first takes place, followed by tests of the aircraft with the engines running, and an engine test.  The next day, the airplane’s test flight follows.  Subsequent thereto is the technical acceptance of the aircraft; and on the fourth day, the documentation is officially accepted and the money transferred, and then the documentation is signed and the ownership of the aircraft transferred.  Representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority then issue certificates for the airplane and the temporary German matriculation that had been used until that time is replaced with a new Czech designation.  In the case of the newly accepted aircraft, the matriculation will be OK-OER.  The plane will be delivered in the new livery.  Overall, 22 aircraft from the Czech Airlines fleet will thus sport the airline’s new logo this year.

New Aircraft
The new-generation aircraft offer passengers more comfortable travel in roomier and wider cabins with larger overhead baggage lockers.  The new aircraft feature modern in-flight entertainment systems that allow for the provision of current information about the flight on a modern audio-visual system, using LCD screens deployed over the passengers’ heads.  The new A319 aircraft are powered by engines produced by the consortium CFM International S.A.  The planes have a range approximately 1,200 km greater than classic-generation Boeing 737 aircraft and are also about five percent faster.  They are more economical to operate, thanks to lower fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs.  Their operation is also environmentally “cleaner”, i.e., it complies with stricter noise and emission standards.

The Czech Airlines Fleet
Czech Airlines presently operates 51 aircraft.  The backbone of the fleet has been comprised of medium-haul Boeing B737 aircraft, which are gradually being replaced with new Airbus A320s and A319s.  In addition to medium-haul aircraft, Czech Airlines operates the ATR42 and ATR72 on short-haul routes and the Airbus A310 on long-haul routes.

Ilona Vysoudilová