CSA tries to stand up to low-cost carriers
A return air-ticket from Prague to London for slightly over 2,000 crowns? No problem if you chose the right company and book early enough. Until recently this would have been the wildest dream of any traveller. Throughout the 1990s a return bus ticket was around twice the price. But after low-cost airlines entered the market, they reduced air-ticket prices to unbelievable lows. A few years ago, they hit the Czech market and more are still coming. Among the low-cost carriers operating on the Czech market are for example EasyJet, BMIbaby, Snowflake, SkyEurope and most recently Germanwings, all of them tough competition for the Czech Republic's flagship carrier Czech Airlines. Pavla Horakova spoke to Czech Airlines' vice president for sales and marketing Vaclav Kral and began by asking him how Czech Airlines was responding to the boom of low-cost carriers on the Czech market.
"We are not afraid of this competition because we have a very fair cost basis, so we are able to match the offer of the low-cost carriers. So we are able to compete with them and we are not afraid of this competition."
You say you are offering more for the same or even lower price - how is that possible?
"Yes, we are offering the full product onboard. We are offering our Frequent Flyer programme, we are offering interline possibilities and so on. As I said, it's due to our lower cost basis and our, let's say, flexible marketing policy."
Despite the worldwide decline in air traffic, your company is expanding - how come?
"Yes, because the Czech Republic is still underserved, the volume of passengers coming to the Czech Republic is still below the European average and the Czech economy is growing - that's one of the aspects. The second aspect is that Prague has become very popular as a tourist destination. So these are the two main reasons. We are expanding in the respect of new destinations, we are adding new frequencies to several destinations and, of course, we have to expand our fleet, so this year we are getting four more aircraft to our fleet."