Korean Air is sole bidder for Czech state airline: report

PRAGUE Mon Mar 4, 2013 8:25am EST

An engineer stands under B777 freighter of Korean Air at Incheon airport, west of Seoul February 14, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

An engineer stands under B777 freighter of Korean Air at Incheon airport, west of Seoul February 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Korean Air (003490.KS) is the sole bidder for a minority stake in loss-making Czech state carrier Czech Airlines, Czech news website idnes.cz reported on Monday.

The Czech government announced a new attempt to privatize the airline in December, when it said Korean Air and Qatar Airways had expressed interest.

"I confirm that we submitted a bid," idnes.cz cited Korean Air official Nathan Cho, in charge of relations with CSA, as saying.

The finance ministry declined to comment.

"The finance minister will update the situation on Wednesday after a government meeting," ministry spokesman Jakub Haas said.

The ministry reached out to around 50 airline companies at the start of the sale process.

A bid to privatize the airline in 2009 fell through after Czech charter airline Travel Service refused to proceed without securing a capital injection from the government.

The Korean Times quoted Chi Chang-hoon, Korean Air's president and chief operating officer, as saying the airline would spend several million dollars to buy 44 percent of Czech Airlines would not be involved in its management.

Czech Airlines, with a fleet of 26 airplanes, lost 241 million crowns ($12.19 million) in 2011. ($1 = 19.7678 Czech crowns)

(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by David Cowell)