Travel Service, the owner of Czech Airlines and the Smartwings brand, is preparing for a change in Chinese ownership.
Travel Service, the owner of both Czech Airlines and the Smartwings leisure-flight brand, is preparing for a change in ownership.
As CEFC, which owns a 49.9% stake in the carrier, faces legal scrutiny at home in China, another Chinese firm, the state-owned Citic Group, has signed an agreement with the Czech government to buy the assets.
Citic will take 49% of the subsidiary CEFC Europe, according to the deal signed with Czech President Milos Zeman, the news site Aviator reports, although the value of the deal or the exact source of the funding has not been disclosed.
CEFC owns a number of assets in the Czech Republic and is now quickly selling them off. Not much is known about this company. Its owner, Ye Jianming, has links to the People’s Liberation Army and Zeman once appointed Ye as a personal financial advisor.
Citic, meanwhile, is a firmly state-controlled corporation based in Beijing. Established in 1979, it is one of China’s biggest conglomerates with assets all over the world including in Hong Kong, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, mostly in banking, financial services and construction.
Formerly of Icelandair
Icelandair Group held a significant stake in Travel Service between 2008 and 2013. This year, as the Czech company consolidates its hold on former competitor Czech Airlines, deliveries of the Boeing 737 MAX to Travel Service are beginning. It was also recently revealed that all Travel Service liveries would be replaced by SmartWings.
Travel Service, which has been operating since 1998, is the Czech Republic’s biggest airline company. As well as scheduled flights under the SmartWings brand, it makes charter and ACMI flights as well as business jet hire. It also has subsidiary airlines in Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.