Czech Airlines flying high after eighty-five years

The Czech national airline ČSA is celebrating its 85th birthday this Monday. Today, the carrier flies to destinations spanning from Athens to Zagreb, and ranks amongst the Czech state’s most valuable assets, but what about back when it first began? Company spokesperson Daniela Hupáková describes the airline’s humble beginnings:

The original ČSA logo
“The official foundation of Czechoslovak Airlines took place on October 6, 1923, and about three weeks later came the opening ceremony and the first commercial flight. At the beginning, ČSA seriously considered a year-round service, but it soon became clear that the winter months were really unsuitable for air transport. The ČSA management decided to end flight schedules by November 30, and Czechoslovak Airlines transported a total of 20 passengers in the first year of its existence.

“In the first year, ČSA mostly used the Aero A-14 aircraft, the majority of which had an open cabin for one or two passengers.”

And where did ČSA fly back in those days? Were all the flights domestic, or were there a couple of exotic destinations on offer as well?

“In 1924, ČSA opened the season on March 1 – and their first flight was from Prague to Bratislava. The second route was opened in May 1924, it was between the Slovakian cities Bratislava and Košice.”

Nowadays the Prague airport Ruzyně is a major hub which has millions of people going through it each year, that didn’t exist back then – ČSA was using Kbely instead. Can you tell me how that looked back then?

“Until the opening of Ruzyně Airport in 1937, ČSA had its base in Prague Kbely – but in the 1920s, it was becoming increasingly obvious that mixing civil and military air traffic at Prague Kbely airport was becoming increasingly unsuitable. In 1937, the airline moved its operations to the newly-opened Ruzyně, which was one of the most modern airports in the world. It had all of the equipment and lighting for nighttime operations, and also aircraft radio-communication equipment. Czechoslovak Airlines started operating from this airport on the same day that it opened. Their first route was from Prague to Brno.”