DALLAS — The Airbus A220 program keeps adding new operators to its list, and this time the new future owner of the type comes from Central Europe. Czech Airlines (OK) has announced that it will be dry-leasing four units of the larger Airbus A220-300 aircraft to modernize its short-haul fleet.
The contract was signed last week with the large leasing enterprise ALC (Air Lease Corporation), and the first units are expected to be delivered in 2024. After its restructuring process in 2021, the Czech airline remains today with only two Airbus A320 aircraft in operation: OK-HEU and OK-IOO.
Petr Kudela, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the airline, said, “These ALC A220s will greatly enhance our airline’s operational strength as we modernize our fleet with highly efficient and environmentally friendly single-aisle aircraft. Thanks to a brand-new cabin configuration, the aircraft offers best-in-class comfort for short- and medium-haul flights.”
With the arrival of the Airbus A220, OK will become the 6th operator of the series in the European continent, where the aircraft is most successful in terms of airline and operator diversity. Delta Air Lines (DL) remains today the largest operator worldwide with 60 units in total.
Czech Airline’s Tough Post-pandemic Situation
The national flag carrier of the Czech Republic was very close to disappearing in 2021 due to the rough consequences of a lack of demand and financial losses caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The border closure and massive sanitary restrictions forced the airline to cancel a big majority of its routes and forget about the ambitious long-haul network planned by the airline at that moment.
Before February 2020, OK owned and operated a large fleet of 15 aircraft of all types ranging from the smaller ATR 72-500 for regional flights, to the larger Airbus A330-300 destined for long-haul flights. The airline also flew a total of six Airbus A319 aircraft, which was the backbone of its European operations at the time.
After the aforementioned restructuring process that kept the airline alive and away from bankruptcy, OK-HEU and OK-IOO maintain a route network made up of one single flight: Prague-Vaclav Havel Airport (PRG) to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
Today, the traffic passing through the gates of PRG is mostly controlled by foreign airlines and by the leisure airline Smartwings (QS), which specializes in offering flights from Slavic countries to the Mediterranean and Balkan countries year-round.
Featured image: The Airbus A319 was once the backbone of CSA’s European operations. Photo: Ervin Eslami/Airways