Struggling flag carrier Czech Airlines has canceled its orders for seven next-generation Airbus narrowbodies. The cancelations concern both the A220 and A321XLR models. The European planemaker had previously sought compensation from the world’s fifth-oldest airline over the fact that these orders, dating back to 2019, had remained unpaid.
Seven canceled aircraft
Earlier this morning, Airbus published the latest iteration of its orders and deliveries data for July 2021. Among the changes to the European manufacturing juggernaut’s figures, as aeroTELEGRAPH reports, were seven canceled aircraft that had previously been ordered by ČSA-Czech Airlines. Three of these aircraft were set to be Airbus A321XLRs.
Meanwhile, the four aircraft that make up the remainder of Czech Airlines’ recent cancelations were A220-300s. The -300 is the stretched-fuselage version of the five-abreast family that began life as the Bombardier CSeries. FlightGlobal notes that the Czech flag carrier ordered these planes in 2019 as a conversion of a seven-aircraft A320neo order. At the time of the conversion, Petr Kudela, Chairman of the Board at CSA, stated:
“The A220 and A321XLR fit well with our long-term business strategy in terms of network expansion. These aircraft will definitely give Czech Airlines a competitive advantage, and will increase the capacity of our regular flights.”
A difficult year for Czech Airlines
Czech Airlines’ newly canceled orders represent the latest in a series of setbacks that the carrier has had to face so far this year. With the 98-year old airline struggling amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, bankruptcy and a potential collapse were threatening the airline. As such, February 2021 saw the Prague-based carrier file a reorganization proposal.
This news came just days after Czech Airlines had opted to lay off its entire workforce. This amounted to some 430 redundant employees. Despite this, and the reorganization proposal, the carrier was unable to save itself, and declared bankruptcy in March. At the time, its debts to 266 creditors and 230,000 passengers totaled $82 million.
The airline had also found itself in hot water over the very Airbus order that has recently been canceled. As Simple Flying reported in May, Airbus has been seeking almost CZK 17 billion ($815 million) in compensation from the Czech flag carrier. This is because Czech Airlines had not paid for the aircraft, which were originally set to be delivered in late 2020.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
The carrier’s fleet as it stands
At this moment in time, the situation seems bleak for Czech Airlines. Its vastly reduced fleet presently consists of just five aircraft, according to data from ch-aviation.com. This figure constitutes a single A319 and A320 (aged 10.3 and 18.9 years old respectively), and three ATR72-500 turboprops (with an average age of 19.9 years old).
Of these planes, only the Airbus fleet seems to have any chance of a future at the airline. After all, all three ATR72s are now in storage. Indeed, ch-aviation reported in March that the airline would be retiring these aircraft in its attempts to downsize. It remains to be seen where Czech Airlines will go from here, but it has certainly been hit very hard indeed.
What do you make of Czech Airlines’ multiple order cancellations of next-generation Airbus planes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.