Czech airline Smartwings to sack 600 pilots, flight staff

Vietnam to resume some flights to China, Japan, S. Korea and Taiwan

Czech low-cost airline Smartwings has announced mass layoffs triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

Up to 600 pilots, flight attendants and ground staff could lose their jobs by early 20121, a spokeswoman confirmed in Prague on Monday.

That would be just under a quarter of the entire workforce.

The carrier, which has about 2,500 employees and operates a fleet of 50 planes on mainly European routes, has been in talks with the Czech government over state aid.

The government agreed on Monday that transport and travel companies may be eligible for a state loan guarantee programme.

Smartwings, controlled by founder Jiri Simane and Chinese state investment company CITIC, said the first 29 dismissals had been discussed with unions on Monday

“We are facing the most difficult time in our history,” said Jiri Simane,

Czech Airlines (CSA), which has existed since 1923, is also a Smartwings subsidiary. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company had stopped regular flight operations from mid-March to mid-May.

Since then, the first connections from Prague to Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Split in Croatia have been re-established, while flights to the Greek islands are to be added in July.

The cabinet in Prague has launched a programme of state guarantees for companies in the travel and transport industry with more than 250 employees, Transport and Industry Minister Karel Havlicek announced.

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