AIRLINES: Flights for less
The first domestic airline has decided to follow in the successful footsteps of foreign low-cost airlines. Starting in May of this year, Travel Service will start offering regular flights under the name Smart Wings to Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich, Copenhagen and Madrid, destinations previously serviced by traditional airlines. The trend towards low-cost carriers is becoming increasingly apparent, and there are already six such airlines servicing Prague. Travel Service was founded in 1997, and today, with seven Boeing 737s, it’s the largest private airline in this country. Until now it has focused mainly on charter flights.

SOCIETY: What are we afraid of?
While many Czech citizens have great expectations about this country’s EU accession this May, a significant amount of the population has less optimistic concerns. Research conducted by the Center for Public Opinion Research at the Czech Republic Academy of Sciences shows that nearly half of all respondents (46%) expect a worsening of their situations in the wake of EU accession, while only 20% expect improvements. And what is it that poll respondents admitted fearing the most this coming year? Concerns over rising prices are shared by 44%, followed by fears of losing jobs (20%).

TRAVEL INDUSTRY: Travel agencies – an endangered species
The first half of 2004 will probably be a make-or-break period for Czech travel agencies. There are currently over a thousand, which means that for each of them there are less than 10,000 possible local clients, so some will clearly have to close. The main problem for small agencies is insurance against insolvency, mandatory as of the beginning of this year, without which they simply cannot sell excursions. Many agencies don’t meet the basic economic conditions, sufficient sales and time in existence. For example, Česká pojišťovna requires revenues from an agency’s sales of its own excursions in the amount of at least CZK 3 million, three years on the market, and positive basic capital. However, it’s far from simple for clients to find out whether a travel agency is insured. The regional development ministry, which is charged with this issue, offers no centralized list of insured subjects. “Such a registry is called for in the amended law on the travel industry. Current legislation does not allow us to maintain such a list,” explains ministry spokesman Petr Dimun.






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