South Bohemia Launches Flights to Turkey and Greece After 17-Year Wait

The people of South Bohemia can finally embark on international vacations from Planá u Českých Budějovic as the České Budějovice Airport, in collaboration with Čedok, launches flights to tourist destinations in Turkey and Greece. After a long wait of 17 years, 189 passengers departed from the airport’s terminal on Wednesday, and a Boeing 737 took off for Antalya, Turkey, piloted by Jiří Jirmus, a native of South Bohemia. A total of 28 flights are scheduled to operate at the airport this year, fulfilling the region’s long-held desire for larger foreign flights.

The launch of international flights from Planá marks a historic moment for South Bohemia and České Budějovice, as travelers no longer need to endure a four-hour journey to Prague for their vacations. With the airport now operational for international travel, locals can enjoy a more comfortable and time-saving experience, as emphasized by the excited passengers on the inaugural flight.

The journey to establish an airport capable of handling larger planes for international flights has been a challenging and lengthy process. Initially owned by the army, the airport became the focus of civil aviation efforts when the city of České Budějovice and the South Bohemian Region founded a company dedicated to civil aviation in 2006. However, discussions about the possibility of international flights with larger aircraft continued for 17 years until the current management of the South Bohemian Region took significant steps to realize this vision.

Investments and operations at the airport, totaling nearly two billion crowns, led to the construction of terminals and the headquarters building. Despite these efforts, only small planes and helicopter emergency crews utilized the airport for some time. The recent changes introduced by the current management of the South Bohemian Region, which acquired a stake in the České Budějovice Airport company from the city, paved the way for international flights.

Governor Martin Kuba emphasized the groundbreaking negotiations with Air Traffic Control and the Civil Aviation Authority, leading to the decision to control the airport from a remote tower. This achievement has opened new possibilities for the airport’s development and operation. With remote tower control, the airport can serve South Bohemians efficiently, and it may pave the way for similar implementations in other regional airports.

The airport’s recent developments were made possible under the leadership of Ivan Trhlík, who assumed the role of director at the České Budějovice Airport company in March. Passengers at Planá Airport now enjoy free parking, shuttle services, and a comfortable check-in building with three terminals and a restaurant. The flight capacity currently stands at 180 passengers per flight.

Governor Kuba remains cautiously optimistic about the airport’s future, emphasizing the need for prudent and strategic development to ensure long-term success. The airport’s introduction of international flights marks a milestone for South Bohemia, offering exciting opportunities for residents to explore new destinations and contribute to the region’s economic growth and prosperity.

Article by Prague Forum

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