Czech Airlines’ new Bratislava base creates indirect competition with several key Ryanair routes

(Don’t) let them eat cake! Bratislava celebrated the first day of the new CSA routes with a gastronomic taste of each new destination awaiting first day travellers at check-in: Dutch cheeses (Amsterdam), beer (Brussels), tapas (Barcelona), baklava (Larnaca) and pizza – hmmm let’s see – Rome maybe??? For more news and pictures of these launches, click here.

Last week saw the opening of Czech Airlines’ new single aircraft base at Bratislava in Slovakia which will initially offer 21 weekly departures across a network of six international destinations in Western Europe (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Larnaca, Paris and Rome), in addition to the carrier’s long-standing service to Prague. Although Ryanair is the busiest airline at the airport it does not have any aircraft based there, operating all routes with aircraft based elsewhere on its network. Bratislava’s airport traffic peaked in 2008 with 2.2 million passengers, at a time when SkyEurope, the locally-based LCC, was still active. Sadly, the carrier ceased operating on 1 September 2009 after seven years of unprofitable operations, and the airport’s passenger numbers suffered.

Source: Bratislava Airport

Source: Bratislava Airport

Tulips greet Bratislava’s passengers for CSA Czech Airlines’ new Amsterdam services. Those flying to Brussels were served Belgian beers (presumably pils-loving Czech Airlines would find chocolate-themed sterotypes unacceptable). "We’re celebrating the first flights of six new Czech Airlines destinations from with a festival of the foods and traditions of the countries to which the airline will be flying – and the possibilities of connecting to the whole world through these hubs," says Tomáš Kika, Director of Sales and Marketing for Bratislava Airport.

Ryanair has served over 20 destinations from Bratislava

Ryanair first started serving Bratislava in October 2005 when it began flights from Frankfurt Hahn and London Stansted. Its network has grown significantly and last summer it served 21 destinations non-stop. This summer the network has been trimmed back to 17 routes with the demise of summer services to Bari, Bologna, Bristol, Pisa and Stockholm Skavsta, but the addition of Gran Canaria. The airline’s summer 2011 network is summarised in the following table.

Country Destination (Weekly frequency)
Belgium Brussels Charleroi (4)
France Paris Beauvais (4)
Ireland Dublin (5)
Italy Alghero (2), Milan Bergamo (5), Rome Ciampino (3), Trapani (2)
Spain Alicante (3), Girona (2), Gran Canaria (2), Malaga (2), Palma de Mallorca (4)
United Kingdom Birmingham (3), Edinburgh (3), Liverpool (2), London Luton (7), London Stansted (14)

Last year the UK – Bratislava market was just over 495,000 passengers (Source: UK CAA) down 11% on 2009, representing around 30% of the airport’s total demand. Traffic during the peak summer months of July and August is typically around 150% higher than in the off-peak months of December and January.

Source: Bratislava Airport

Source: Bratislava Airport

Domestic flights to Kosice and charter flights to warm destinations

Other carriers serving the airport include DanubeWings operating daily domestic scheduled flights to Kosice and seasonal flights to Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar in Croatia using three 70-seat ATR-72s, plus UTair to Moscow Vnukovo. Charter flights to various destinations in Egypt, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey are operated by Travel Service (Slovakia).

Marios Kountourides – Cypriot Ambassador to Slovakia – cuts the ribbon to launch Larnaca services.


  1. DrX says:

    Let’s see how long can CSA last here. Trying to compete with Ryanair and the nearby Vienna airport (the most important airport in the CEE region) is just plain insane. My guess is that CSA will start cutting flights at latest in September.

    In Slovakia, the Kosice Airport has a much larger potential than BTS since it does not have any nearby major airports competing with it (Budapest and Krakow are the nearest, located at least 250km away). Bratislava can only serve as a low-cost alternative for the greater Vienna area. So, it really makes me wonder why is CSA trying to do what at least 10 airlines did in the last 20 years (SkyEurope, Air Slovakia, Slovak Airlines, LOT). Notably, all of the airlines that had their base in Bratislava went belly-up (the ones that did not just cancelled their service, like LOT).

  2. Emmanuel Heitmann-Ta says:

    Lets see if CSA does better than AUA. In 2004 AUA based one aircraft at BTS to fly mainly to some European capitals (Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, London). But as far as I remember, they did not try the mix of “business” and “leisure” destinations. The AUA base didn’t last long, leave the field for Sky Europe.
    Good luck CSA!

  3. DrX says:

    Today, CSA announced that they cancel their flights BTS-PRG as of Aug 1. So, my guess that they’d start cutting in September was too optimistic.

    Now my prediction is that they will cut at least 3 more flights by the end of October. It’s hard to believe that somebody comes with such a stupid idea as basing a plane in BTS…

  4. DrX says:

    Ouch. Today CSA announced that they are lowering the frequencies of their “new” flights BTS-FCO and BTS-BRU. Is there any help for these guys? Their detachment from reality is truly unbelievable.

  5. Shyguy says:

    CSA may reduce the frequencies but has anyone noticed that Ryanair seems to cancel almost all their flights to BTS? I can find only some UK destinations with low freq. in the winter schedule.

  6. maf says:

    shyguy : dont worry, not all flights are in the system, already

  7. DrX says:

    CSA is further reducing BTS-FCO, while restoring one flight BTS-BRU from september

Comments are closed