MIAMI – Smartwings (QS) has secured an 80% state-guaranteed loan provided by a consortium of banks under the leadership of UniCredit Bank.
The airline is part of Smartwings Group along with CSA (OK), owned by Unimex and participated by the Chinese Citic Europe Investment Group.
The financing amounts to a total of US$90.5m (CZK2bn), due to mature in six years, and is part of the aid plan destined to counter the financial crisis brought forward by the Covid-19 pandemic. The loan is guaranteed by the state-owned entity EGAP (Export Guarantee and Insurance Company) against a fee amounting to US$9m (CZK200m).
Smartwings availed itself of the financial advice of Etihad (EY), legal counsel from Dentons while going thru its restructuring as well as support from lessors and companies with which the airline cooperates.
Recovering from 2020
The carrier suffered heavy losses during 2020 but managed to ride the crisis by entering a creditor’s protection scheme that resulted in a moratorium in regard to its creditors. At the same time, its subsidiary, OK, did not fare that well and declared bankruptcy in February 2021. QS is also supporting OK’s reorganization since its subsidiary was not granted aid from the COVID Plus plan.
The airline is fully prepared for the summer season and has already entered contracts with travel agencies, both at home and abroad, to provide air travel services. QS is prepared to fly its fleet of 42 aircraft not only from the Czech Republic but also from Poland, France, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Canary Islands.
Featured image: Smartwings Boeing 737-700NG OK-SWW – Photo: Roberto Leiro/Airways