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Josef Piga - Omnipol

We saved Kunovice Aircraft, otherwise its end or its nationalization will come, says Omnipol’s Piga

toLast week, the manufacturer of civilian transport aircraft, Aircraft Industries, bought the Richard Háva family’s Omnipol group from the Russian owner. According to Joseph Bega, Vice President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Omnipol, the traditional factory in Konovice in Moravia would have ended otherwise. “We don’t expect anyone to thank us for this, but we feel the necessity of saving the plant our ancestors built,” Beja told HN, adding that Omnipol already has a two-plane contract ready for the Philippines.

The acquired company, known primarily as the original Let Kunovice, produces small civil aircraft with a turbocharged L 410 and L 410 NG engine. It employs nearly a thousand people in the Uherské Hradiště region. Omnipol also owns a minority stake in Aero Vodochody, which manufactures the L-39NG military training aircraft. The majority is controlled by a Hungarian investor. “There are clearly synergies,” Bega says.

HN: How long did the acquisition negotiations take for the Konovice product?

It was fast and intense, due to the recent embargo against Russia. This led, among other things, to the loss of the plant’s supply of aircraft engines from the American company GE Aviation. Thus, it was subjected to existential pressures because in such a situation it would not be able to meet its financial obligations towards employees, suppliers and tax authorities. That’s why we decided to expand further as a group. Negotiations lasted nearly four weeks.

HN: What happened to all the bans in the Konovici plane maker case?

Right from the start, the first sanctions had an effect on Let Kunovice after 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. Russia responded to European sanctions by raising tariffs, which made the entire product much more expensive. Konovis planes are still only sold to Russia. Suppose that out of 12 aircraft that could be produced annually, ten were for a Russian customer. Now, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more sanctions have been imposed, indicating the prohibition of any trade with Russia, including in the field of civil aviation. Thus, as of March 28, Flight Kunovice could not only export any aircraft, but also spare parts or anything needed to service these aircraft. As a result, everything they invested in making machines, including human labor, remained in the air.

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