Czechoslovakia like several European nations was caught in a tug of war between Superpowers in the immediate postwar era and unfortunately for them after years of Nazi domination traded one form of tyranny for another when the Iron Curtain rose up and they were on the wrong side of it.
The air network, which had flourished in the immediate postwar era, was curtailed in 1948 but despite this the reformed CSA Československé státní aerolinie (Czechoslovak State Airlines) was one of the more successful and progressive of the Eastern Bloc airlines.
It was for example the only airline other than Aeroflot that put the TU-104 into service making it one of the very first airlines in the world to start turbojet services. Still the TU-104 was not a long range airliner and was primarily flown between Prague and Moscow from 1957. For longer range routes CSA would need something else and very little was available in the Russian inventory (except the TU-114) which could go the distance. Nonetheless in February 1962 Transatlantic services did begin - to Havana.
The Havana service was possible due to an ingenious deal with Cubana. Having only recently moved into the Soviet sphere of influence the Cubans had access to some modern western equipment in the form of Bristol Britannias (admittedly obsolete by Western standards in 1962). Cubana crews initially provided training and assistance and in 1964 OK-MBA was replaced by another Britannia which became OK-MBB. Services began to Montreal and New York but in 1969 the Brits were replaced by new IL-18D and IL-62 airliners. MBB was originally CU-P671 (later CU-T671) upon 1959 delivery to Cubana. Returned to Cubana she wasn’t broken up until 1981.
CSA started flying Il-62 in 1968 by leasing the equipment from Aeroflot. They initially replaced the Tu-104 to Far East and on the Prague-London route. These planes wore hybrid colors where the Aeroflot delivery livery was modified by painting a Czech flag on an all white tail, and pale blue CSA/Ceskoslovenske Aerolinie titles on the fuselage (same color of the cheat-line).
CSA took delivery of ten of its own IL-62s from 1969, as the first foreign customer for the type. They updated its long-haul fleet with the M version from 1979 when the first of six arrived. The 62M had new quieter more powerful engines, a fin fuel tank, new flaps and ‘spoilerons’ – wing mounted airbrakes. CSA kept its 62Ms in service into the early 90s with the last leaving service in 1993. OK-JBJ arrived in 1979. She was leased to Malev for the 1991 summer to operate services to Japan, which were short-lived. In 1996 she saw service with Bemoair and Egretta, both with her original registration, before she was sold to Yana Airlines in January 1999 as XU-299. Subsequently she has served with Mekong Airlines and Air Cess Equatorial Guinea (as 3C-QQZ). Her last registration was TL-ABW with Jetline International.
NOTE: With thanks to tonycutrella
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: