Smartwings Bolsters Liquidity With $90m Loan

Smartwings yesterday shared that it has signed a loan agreement with a syndicate of banks for a CZK 2 billion (~$90 million) loan with a maturity of six years. The airline said that the move is part of the COVID Plus program announced by the Czech government to mitigate the impact of the global health crisis.

A SmartWings Boeing 737-700 about to land at Milan Malpensa
Due to the ongoing restrictions, the Czech operator had to lay off 600 employees and implemented a series of restructuring measures. Photo: Getty Images

Critical funding

The pandemic and subsequent measures by national and international authorities have caused a significant long-term downturn in passenger activity across Europe. Therefore, Smartwings reported a significant revenue decrease.

Until now, the airline has tackled the situation through a moratorium with the support of creditors, which ended on March 26th. The company expresses that the Czech Republic is the only European nation that hasn’t had “a support program for the air transport sector, which is among the industries most affected by the pandemic.”

The low-cost carrier shares that the new loan deal has been agreed with four banks. These institutions are UniCredit Bank, Komerční banka, Československá obchodní banka, and Česká spořitelna. The airline also adds that the Export Guarantee and Insurance Company (EGAP) is securing the loan. For this guarantee, Smartwings will pay the state-owned outfit a figure of nearly CZK 200 million (~€905,000). 

Further measures across the company, including support from lessors, bring the airline approximately an additional CZK 5 billion (~$226 million).

SmartWings Boeing 737-800 taxiing at Corfu airport
Smartwings saw a 90% drop in revenue in 2020. Photo: Getty Images

Company gratitude

Smartwings highlights that the support from its shareholders has been crucial in the agreement. Notably, it says that it wouldn’t have been able to draw the loan if it wasn’t for Unimex Group.

Jiří Šimáně, chairman of the board of directors of Smartwings, said the following about the deal in a statement:

This is a key milestone for Smartwings, after a year of battling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The financing deal, which concludes the moratorium process, will allow Smartwings to continue operating over the coming financial period. We appreciate the trust and professionalism that the banks and EGAP have shown us at this difficult time, especially UniCredit Bank, with which we have been cooperating for more than 20 years.”

Additionally, Jakub Dusílek, the chairman of the board of directors and CEO of UniCredit Bank, the main arranger in the transaction and one of the lenders, said the following:

We are glad to be close to our clients and to be able to support them during these challenging times, thus allowing the restart of the Czech economy and, as regards Smartwings, the operation of the largest Czech airline provider.”

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Looking ahead

Smartwings concludes that it is well prepared for the upcoming summer season. It is looking to conduct services not only from the Czech Republic but also from Poland, France, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Canary Islands.

Smartwings Boeing 737 MAX
The airlines’ fleet now totals 42 aircraft. Photo: Smartwings!

Altogether, the business is expecting a lot of demand amid the signing of contracts worth tens of billions CZK with travel agencies for the provision of air transport services. The airline is confident of a strong return as one of most dominant firms in the charter flight market in Central Europe.

Overall, what are your thoughts about Smartwings securing financing as part of its ongoing restructuring? How do you feel that the deal will help the carrier in the long term? Let us know what you think of the move in the comment section.

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