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COVID-19: Czech aviation industry worst hit in Europe

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Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech aviation industry was the worst hit market in Europe as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The Czech Republic carried 78% fewer passengers in 2020 than the previous year, the biggest drop in Europe, a December IATA study found.

National carrier Czech Airlines, part of the Smartwings Group, reported an estimated 90% drop in sales last year. “Due to the drastic decline in demand cause by extraordinary circumstances, we were forced to implement very drastic austerity measures and take many major steps”, Smartwings CEO Roman Vik said.

Reports from last year suggested that up to 60% of Czech Airlines employees could potentially be laid-off, while negotiations with the Czech government were underway for a possible bailout.

Slovakia (-74%), Hungary (-71%) and Poland (-70%) reported nearly similar drops in passenger traffic last year due to travel restrictions introduced as a result of the COVID pandemic, widely seen as one of the greatest crises in the history of the aviation industry and air transportation.

On average, passenger traffic decreased by 70% in Europe in 2020, while the EU’s top aviation hubs also reported unprecedented drops, including the UK (-76%), Germany (-74%) and France (-74%).

“Our projections for this year and the next are little short of a disaster for European air transport”, warned IATA’s regional vice-president for Europe Rafael Schvartzman. “Border restrictions and quarantine measures have brought demand to a halt and the region has been affected even worst than most other parts of the world”.

“We are all desperate for action from governments to safely restore the freedom to travel”, he added.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Warsaw and Budapest.

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