Smartwings Group recorded a steep decline in the number of passengers last year due to the unprecedented situation in the aviation industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The group carried more than 1.3 million passengers on its regular lines and charter flights under its Smartwings and CSA brands, which was 83.7% fewer than in the previous year. Other 451 thousand passengers traveled on board Smartwings Group aircrafts operated on ACMI wet lease agreements with other carriers. In total, Smartwings Group served 1.8 million passengers (-81.47% y-o-y). The Czech air transport industry has been hit the hardest of all European markets by the pandemic and associated travel restrictions, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Smartwings Group operated 13.5 flights last year (-78.4%), with Smartwings- and CSA-branded aircraft landing at 263 airports around the world. The Group operated its flights not only from the Czech Republic but also from France, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Canary Islands. Smartwings Group’s fleet includes 47 airplanes.
„Early last year, Smartwings Group seemed to be heading for the best results in its history. Instead, it had to face an unexpected and unprecedented aviation industry crisis. A dramatic decline in demand caused by the extraordinary circumstances forced us to adopt severe austerity measures and take many radical steps,“ says Roman Vik, board member and CEO, Smartwings.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated measures adopted by governments in the Czech Republic and other European countries in 2020, air traffic was restricted to an unprecedented degree, causing the number of passengers and consequently the company’s revenues to plummet. In spring, when a state of emergency was declared, air transport was halted completely. When the emergency was lifted, renewed traffic did not even reach 20% of the previous level. The COVID-19 pandemic caused revenues to drop by 90% as compared to 2019. Before the pandemic broke out, both Smartwings and CSA had been profitable. Besides a decline in demand for air transport, Smartwings and CSA have to face unfair competition from air carriers that have received state aid. A vast majority of air carriers across the EU have received direct or indirect state aid approved by the European Commission. Smartwings and CSA have received no targeted aid, though.
„A key factor for a revival of travel is successful vaccination of the population,” says Roman Vik. “Our goal is to regain a position of a major player on the European aviation market and a competitive air carrier. We still believe we can make it, mainly thanks to our employees who have done extremely well during the crisis. Big thanks to them!"
Despite the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel, Smartwings Group continues to operate flights to the biggest number of destinations from the Czech Republic (currently 11) and is the largest air carrier at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport. Besides regular lines and charter flights under the Smartwings and CSA flags, the company provides a wide range of special flights for important organizations, sports clubs etc. The company has long been involved in UN- and NATO-sponsored air transports for Scandinavian armies to Afghanistan and Mali. Besides the Czech Republic, Smartwings dispatches its flights also from hubs in Poland, France, Canary Islands, Slovakia, and Hungary. During the state of emergency in spring last year, Smartwings Group immediately responded to the needs of Czech citizens and requests by the government and provided its capacities to transport medical supplies from China and to return Czech citizens from Canada, USA, Philippines, Peru, Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Canary Islands, and Egypt.