Czech low-cost leisure airline Smartwings announced on Wednesday that it is resuming flights to Russia’s second-largest city. Twice-weekly flights from Prague to St Petersburg will recommence on April 29th, over one year after the suspension of all services in and out of the Czech Republic.
Thursday and Sunday codeshare services
The service from Václav Havel Airport Prague (PRG) to St Petersburg’s Pulkovo (LED) will operate two times per week on Thursdays and Sundays. Flight QS886 will take off from PRG at 11:20 and land at LED 14:40. The return flight QS887 will leave St Petersburg at 15:30 and arrive back in Prague at 17:00. The flight time is two hours and 20 minutes, with a time difference of one hour.
The flights are operated in a codeshare agreement with Czech Airlines, which is part of the Smartwings Group. They are also bookable via the flag carrier’s website, operating as OK4886 and OK4887. According to the schedule on both airlines’ sites, the Prague to St Petersburg service will be operated by one of Smartwing’s Boeing 737-800s.
Currently, the only nonstop flight between Prague and Pulkovo is operated by Aeroflot subsidiary Rossiya Russian Airlines with an Airbus A319. Meanwhile, Czech Airlines flies three times weekly to Moscow on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays with an Airbus A320. This is despite having been declared bankrupt one month ago, with debts equalling $82 million.
Russian restrictions remain in place
Travel to Russia remains restricted to citizens of the Russian Federation, their family members, residents, diplomats, and highly qualified specialists. Everyone entering the country must also provide a negative PCR certificate no older than 72 hours before travel.
The Czech Republic suspended all flights in and out of the country on March 16th last year in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus. Flights have resumed over the course of the year but remain mere skeleton operations.
Current routes out of Prague
Leisure-specialist Smartwings currently flies to Malaga, Mallorca, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Fuerteventura in Spain and the Canary Islands. It also operates routes to Funchal on Portugal’s Madeira, Hurghada, and Marsa Alam in Egypt, as well as charter flights to Ras al Khaimah in the UAE.
Meanwhile, Czech Airlines has been responsible for the group’s more northern itinerary with flights to Stockholm, Sweden, and Moscow, Russia three times per week, once daily to Kyiv, Ukraine, and up to one per day to Paris, France.
Smartwings recently secured $90 million in liquidity via a loan agreement with several banks and funding from the Czech Republic’s Covid Plus program. The airline was the second European carrier after TUI’s Belgian subsidiary to recommence flights with the Boeing 737 MAX following the type’s ungrounding in January this year. The ‘first’ flight with the model took off from Prague to Malaga on February 25th.