There is a clear favourite in the planned Czech Airlines (ČSA) privatisation – Russia’s Aeroflot, Hospodářské noviny found out. “Now we are only waiting to see who will bring Aeroflot to the Czech Republic,” said one of the Czech entrepreneurs who would like to take part in the privatisation as partner to a foreign bidder. Forming a consortium consisting of the main buyer and a company with the local knowledge is a common practice in such cases. Other entrepreneurs are also considering Aeroflot as the hot candidate to buy the Czech national air carrier. Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček wants to make CZK 3-5 billion in the privatisation.

The government is not concerned about any possible security risks involved in the sale. “The main objective is to find a suitable strategic partner. So the bidders will first go through a qualification stage, in which security risks will be assessed, too. The privatisation profit is an important factor, but it comes only second in terms of importance,” Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told HN. Czech Airlines is to be the first in a series of privatisation projects planned by the Czech government. The cabinet wants to sell ČSA next year, with a tender to be announced within a few months.

Transport Minister Řebíček hopes there will be more investors seeking ČSA. But Aeroflot has been the only one to declare its interest publicly. “We are interested in ČSA. We will participate in the tender that will probably take place next year,” Aeroflot spokeswoman Irina Dannenberg said recently. By contrast, Air France-KLM, for example, is reticent about the issue. “Czech Airlines privatisation has not started yet. There is nothing to comment on,” KLM spokeswoman Marisca Kensenhuis told HN.

This article was translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.