On October 6, 1923, CSA Czech Airlines was founded as Czechoslovak State Airlines (CSA). Czech Airlines, one of the oldest airlines in Europe, has gained an enormous amount of experience and has grown into a modern airline.
On October 29, 1923, the pilot Karel Brabenec performed the first transport flight from Prague to Bratislava, with an Aero A-14 (Brandenburg) bi-plane.
In 1929, CSA became a member of IATA (the International Air Transport Association).
In July 1930, CSA entered the world of international transport with a flight operated with a Ford 5AT plane on the Prague – Zagreb route. In the 1930s, CSA connected Prague and Bucharest, Moscow, Brussels, Paris, Rome and Budapest and improved passenger service by introducing cabin attendants on board.
In March 1939, CSA interrupted activities due to the occupation of Czechoslovakia. In September 1945, the airline resumed its activity, as the only Czechoslovakian airline carrier.
Until 1950, the airline gradually resumed and introduced operations on both international and domestic routes. With the opening of flights to Cairo and Ankara, CSA entered into intercontinental air transport for the first time. Also then, it began an orientation toward Soviet airline-technology by introducing IL-12 and LI-2 planes.
In 1957, CSA entered the turbo-jet era, by introducing TU-104A aircraft on the Prague – Moscow route, and started to operate Avia IL-14 aircraft, Ilyushin Il-14 built by Avia under licence in Czechoslovakia.
The 1960s were marked by the rampant development of international transport: the airline crossed the equator for the first time, with the opening of a new route Prague – Jakarta, made its first transatlantic flight from Prague to Havana, and added new destinations in Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia.
In the first half of the 1970s, CSA started new flights to Montreal and New York and added to its fleet TU-134A and YAK-40 aircraft.
In the late 1970s and in the 1980s, operations were expanded to include new destinations: Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Barcelona, Dubai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Lisbon, Malta, Tashkent, and Yerevan. TU-154M aircraft were added to the fleet.
In the beginning of the 1990s, CSA began renewing its fleet by introducing Airbus A310-300, ATR-72 and Boeing 737-500 aircraft into operation. It also extended its network to Chicago, Toronto, Manchester, Dusseldorf, Vienna, Lviv, Riga and Bahrain.
In 1992, CSA was transformed into a joint-stock company, with Air France as a shareholder. In 1994, Air France sold its share to the Consolidation Bank.
In May 1995, the airline adopted its present name – Czech Airlines.
In the second half of the 1990s, CSA Czech Airlines introduced Boeing 737-400 and ATR-42 on its routes and removed from the operation the Russian TU- 134A and TU- 154M aircraft.
In March 2001, CSA Czech Airlines joined the SkyTeam alliance.
In 2004, CSA Czech Airlines was offering connections to 75 destinations in 44 countries worldwide. The fleet grew to 45 planes, by a record number of ten new airplanes. At the same time, CSA Czech Airlines entered a completely new market after the Czech Republic joined the EU – for the first time in its history, the airline offered a connection outside the Czech Republic, on the Marseille-Barcelona route.
In 2006, for the second time, CSA Czech Airlines won the Best Airline in Eastern Europe Award from the American magazine Global Traveler. A survey conducted by IATA showed that passenger satisfaction with Czech Airlines services was among the highest in Europe.
In September 2007, CSA Czech revealed its new look. A new visual style, more comprehensible for its foreign clients (80% of the airline’s customers), was introduced, but the easily identifiable, traditional abbreviation for Czech Airlines – CSA – has been retained in the new logo for Czech passengers. Also, Czech Airlines won the prestigious Best Airline in Central Europe award at the World Airline Awards.
In 2008, the airline took delivery of four brand new Airbus A319 aircraft and, in response to the economic crisis, published its 2009 Action Plan.
In 2009, the Czech Ministry of Finance announced a tender for the purchase of the majority stake in Czech Airlines. Four bidders entered the competition: Air France-KLM, Odien Group, Darofan from the Aeroflot Group, and a consortium of the Unimex Group and Travel Service. Only the Unimex Group and Travel Service consortium submitted a final bid, but the Czech Government rejected the offer and halted the process of privatising Czech Airlines.
In 2010-2011, a new joint-stock company, Czech Aeroholding, was founded by the Czech Government. Alongside Prague Airport – the operator of the Prague international airport, Czech Airlines Technics – provider of services in technical maintenance of aircraft, and Czech Airlines Handling – provider of services in passenger and aircraft handling, Czech Airlines became a subsidiary of Czech Aeroholding.
In 2013, Korean Air acquired a 44% stake in CSA Czech Airlines.
In 2014, CSA Czech Airlines started offering additional services online. Czech Airlines’ clients can thus shop online for both airfare and additional services, such as advanced booking of a preferred seat, additional piece of baggage and/or extra weight, and pay for all purchased services at once.
In 2015, Travel Service became the newest and second largest shareholder of CSA Czech Airlines. After the sale of 34% of Czech Airlines’ shares to Travel Service, Czech Aeroholding retained a share of 19.735%.
In 2016, CSA Czech Airlines returned to profit, recording an after-tax profit of CZK 241 million. Czech Airlines carried 2.26 million passengers on scheduled flights and 2.7 million passengers in total (scheduled and charter flights), an increase of 13% respectively 23.5% compared with 2015.
In December 2016, CSA Czech Airlines introduced new fares, offering both more expensive and cheap options to passengers. The Lite Fare, newly introduced, includes only carry-on baggage allowance and is offered on all Czech Airlines scheduled flights except the Seoul long-haul route.
In 2017, CSA Czech Airlines launched five new routes to/from Aarhus, Lisbon, Malmö, Reykjavík, and Verona. Also, the airline’s transport indicators improved: from the total 2.9 million passengers transported aboard its aircraft 2.68 million traveled on scheduled flights, which is an improvement of over 18% compared with 2016, and the average load factor on scheduled flights increased by almost 6%, reaching 81.1%.
In 2018, Travel Service, a Czech charter airline which also operates the SmartWings brand of low-cost flights, acquired almost all of Czech Airlines, following an agreement with Korean Air and asset-management firm Prisko announced in October 2017. Travel Service became the majority shareholder with 97.735% of CSA Czech Airlines shares upon completion of the transfers of the 44% stake held by Korean Air and the 19.735% stake held by Prisko. The remaining 2.3% stake is held by the insurance firm Česká pojišťovna.
As the world’s fifth oldest airline still in operation, CSA Czech Airlines recorded in its history 19 fatal accidents, more than half of them involving Ilyushin, Tupolev and Avia aircraft. Since 1990, no fatal accidents involving CSA Czech Airlines were registered.