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In this week's business news Irish low-cost airline Ryanair arrives in Prague; a growing number of companies have problems finding employees; the price of cigarettes expected to rise; the Czech mineral water producer buys stake in Austrian soft-drink company and the poultry meat prices are expected to rise considerably.

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair arrives in Prague

As of November this year, Europe's largest low-cost airline Ryanair will be flying from Prague to Dublin and back on a daily basis. The Irish company expects to carry over 100,000 passengers in the first year - the majority of whom are expected to be Irish nationals - said a company spokesperson on Wednesday. According to a survey conducted by the Czech Local Development Ministry, Irish tourists spend on average 2,800 CZK (140 USD) a day on a visit to Prague, which ranks them amongst the biggest-spenders.

Low-cost airlines flying to and from Prague raised their market share at Prague's Ruzyne airport by five percentage points in the first six months of this year and low-cost airlines are now used by 25 percent of passengers at the airport. Ryanair already flies from Brno to London and has announced the launch of a further route from Brno, this time to Gerona, Spain, starting in October.

Growing number of companies have problems finding employees

Photo: European Commission
Three quarters of Czech companies have problems finding employees, Hospodarske noviny reported on Monday. The biggest Czech car-manufacturer Skoda auto, for example, allegedly lacks 500 employees. The shortage is most prominent in the industrial sector, where 88 percent of companies are currently looking for new employees. Lorry drivers, shop assistant and IT experts are also in short supply. One third of Czech companies rely on foreigners and some have started employing pensioners and women on maternity leave.

According to data released by the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs there are more than 200,000 foreign workers, mostly manual labourers, currently employed in the Czech Republic. They come mainly from Slovakia, Ukraine and Poland. The ministry plans to introduce a so-called green card system to facilitate the employment of qualified workers from abroad.

Price of cigarettes expected to rise

As of next year, the price of cigarettes in the Czech Republic is set to increase more than originally expected. A packet of cigarettes may rise by 7 CZK instead of 4 CZK, as was previously proposed. According to the latest amendment in the excise tax bill which is currently being discussed in the lower house, the tax is set to rise to 1208 CZK per kilogram, up from 905 CZK. The gradual increase in the price of cigarettes has led to many Czech smokers buying cheaper brands or rolling their own cigarettes.

Czech mineral water producer buys stake in Austrian soft-drink company

Czech mineral water producer Karlovarske mineralni vody announced in Vienna on Thursday that it was to buy a 25.1% share in Austrian soft-drink manufacturer Waldquelle Kobersdorf, the second biggest on the Austrian market. Karlovarske mineralni vody controls 80% of the Czech bottled-water market and owns some of its most prominent brands such as Mattoni, Dobra voda, Magnesia and Aquila. It produces 885 million litres of mineral water a year and its turnover reached CZK 5 billion (USD 240 million) last year.

Poultry meat prices to rise considerably

Poultry meat prices are expected to increase significantly due to the growing price of grain, representatives of breeders and meat processors said at a news conference on Wednesday. Some meat processors say they expect to charge up to 30 percent more but the actual price-hike will depend on talks with retailers. Prices are expected to grow as of September, when more expensive grain from last year's harvest will be used to feed animals. A smaller price increase can be also expected on pork.

In the second half of July, chickens were sold in shops for CZK 56 (USD 3) per kilo, in comparison to an average CZK 47 in the first six months of the year. Poultry meat prices in the Czech Republic are 20 percent below those of its neighbours.