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Korean Air, Qatar Airways Show Interest in Czech Airlines

Korean Air Lines and Qatar Airways showed interest in Ceske Aerolinie AS, the Czech national carrier, Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said.

The two airlines responded “positively” to letters sent out to the world’s largest carriers as part of CSA’s search for a strategic partner, Kalousek said today in Prague. The government expects to receive binding bids for the CSA stake, including the price, by the end of February and the government should choose a buyer in early April, Kalousek said.

Any agreement needs approval by the European Commission, Kalousek said. The government doesn’t expect any complications because the sale fulfills European watchdog conditions for state support, Kalousek said.

The government already scrapped the sale of the airline in 2009 after receiving a sole bid from Unimex Group and charter carrier Travel Service and said it would overhaul CSA instead. CSA, which reduced its fleet, staff and services, is now part of Cesky Aeroholding AS, which also operates Letiste Praha AS.

The government indicated earlier that it will sell only as much as 49 percent to a carrier outside of Europe.

Officials expect to receive tentative bids and plans for the further development of CSA from the carriers at the end of January, according to Kalousek. CSA also settled law disputes with Prague-based airline Travel Service about charter flights before the sale, Kalousek added.

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