The low-cost carrier SkyEurope announced yesterday that they are adding Prague as a base of operations to their existing bases of Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw and Vienna/Bratislava. Flights start on April 10 with routes to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Milan Bergamo, Naples (April 13), Nice (April 11), Paris Orly, and Rome Fiumicino. On many of its routes, SkyEurope will be competing with the Prague based low-cost carrier Smart Wings.
The opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy takes place today and the games run through February 26. There are high expectations for the Czech hockey team, which won the gold medal in the 1998 Olympics, the ski jumper Jakub Janda who won a silver and a bronze at the 2005 World Championships, and cross-country skier Kateřina Neumannová who won a gold medal at the 2005 World Championships.
The Czech Republic ranked #43 out of 195 countries according to a freedom to travel report by Henley & Partners. Their 2006 Henley Visa Restrictions Index ranked countries based on the number of countries to which its citizens can travel without needing a visa. Czechs do not need a visa to travel to 98 countries. The Czech Republic ended up with a similiar ranking to its neighbors Poland (106), Hungary (101), and Slovakia (97) . Finland, Denmark, and the United States topped the list at 130 visa-free countries.
This just in…
The last out of the seven Italian-made Pendolino trains that were sold to the Czech Republic for 4.3 billion CZK (150 million EUR/180 million USD) and out of which five were pompously introduced last month, stopped running today. The others broke down a couple weeks ago. Didn’t last very long. They came, they served, they died. The cause? Software failure.
As reported on the ČT24 news station, the passengers who boarded the last functioning Pendolino train in Prague this morning joined all the others who were not taken to their destinations. Instead of arriving in a supercity, they arrived at the outskirts of a village where, in freezing temperatures, they were herded onto other, not-so-fancy trains. So much for a great entrée.
České dráhy (Czech Railways) is not to blame here. The four defective trains have been returned to the manufacturer and the fifth one will undoubtedly follow. In addition, a hefty fine will supposedly be demanded from ALSTOM.