Will Czech Airlines be privatised or go bankrupt before Jan Fischer’s cabinet picks the tender winner? Regardless of the outcome, there’s a moral to take away from this: One should not lie, even if the lie could earn one hundreds of millions after selling the airline into private hands.
Seven months ago, when Aeroflot’s role in the privatisation was being discussed, ČSA pretended to be in great condition. The company’s chair Radomír Lašák, as well as Transport Minister Aleš Řebíče both claimed that to be the case; neither Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek nor the opposition within the ČSSD — maybe because its prominent member Jaroslav Tvrdík precipated the airline’s decline – attempted to uncover the lie. And all it would have taken, back then, was a poke at the bubble of ČSA’s prosperity which would pop to unfold the bleak prospects of the company’s survival by selling off its assets.
Nonetheless, politicians acted as if everything was in the best of order and didn’t make the least effort to mend things. Perhaps they hoped to sell the company before having to deal with bankruptcy or the insolvency process, looking to sell it for a decent price.
They won’t sell it, though. The one company left in the running, Travel Services, isn’t affluent enough to pay a decent price and also invest in saving the airline. So, we can expect the Russian Aeroflot to enter the game again — a company that Topolánek’s cabinet disqualified from the contest due to safety risks. Only this Kremlin-operated company possesses the motivation and economy strong enough to follow through with the purchase. If Aeroflot buys off Travel Services, it won’t be an issue for the latter’s owner Jiří Šimaně, a former employee of communist foreign affairs companies, to negotiate the selling of at least part of the company with Kremlin. In case of success, Russian spies will gain access to valuable information, including a peak into the running of the air carrier which is conveniently based at Prague Airport—a strategic location that Kremlin is also interested in.
One should not lie because if politicians told the truth at the start of the year — though, they should have done so much earlier as ČSA’s poor status has been apparent for at least two years — the current situation and the approaching risks could have been dealt in advance. But the politicians’ strange belief that everything they do, they do well, and that when something goes wrong, it will eventually turn out okay, are slowly steering us into an abyss called state bankruptcy. ČSA is but one milestone on this path.