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Army to regain Líně airport. Operator must vacate it, court confirmed

Translated by Milo Dvorak

28. 3. 2024

Business Newsletter #20

Published by on 27 March 2024.

newsletter 20
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The Regional Court in Plzeň ruled that the company PlaneStation must vacate the Líně backup military airport within two months of receiving the verdict. The tenant, which has been operating the airport since 2000, stated that it will appeal to the Supreme Court. However, the appeal does not have a suspensive effect. The Supreme Court can delay the enforceability of the decision, thus extending the two-month period for vacating, which starts from the moment the decision becomes legally binding. The army has its plans for the airport; it wants to build a logistics center there for Czech soldiers and NATO, and a base for the active reserves of the regional military command.

"Given the army's plans, today's decision is key because the eviction is fundamental. The due rent and unjust enrichment are just financial compensation," said the legal representative of the ministry, Václav Cihla. If PlaneStation does not meet the two-month deadline for vacating, the ministry can file a proposal for judicial enforcement of the decision or for an execution warrant. It is prepared for this.

PlaneStation Pilsen Ltd. rented the airport from the state in 2000 for 50 years with an option for another 50 years. However, the Ministry of Defence terminated the lease agreement in February 2012 due to unpaid rent since February 2010. In 2013, the ministry filed a lawsuit for the eviction of the premises, which was now being discussed. "We consider the lease termination valid; the lease ended in 2012," said the presiding judge Jiří Levý today.

The company PlaneStation stopped paying rent in 2010 because it could not fully utilise the airport. It has long argued that the ministry presented it with false parameters of the airport's landing and takeoff runways, preventing larger commercial aircraft from landing and taking off. Therefore, it requested a rent discount and a modification of the lease agreement, which the ministry refused.

"I expected it to be about 50-50. I understand why the appellate court leaned this way. Now we will wait for the verdict to be issued in writing and then we will be filing an appeal. Meanwhile, we will inform our subtenants about the steps we will be taking," said the managing director of PlaneStation, Petr Kutný. According to him, there are 60 to 70 subtenants at the airport, from whom the company still collects rent, including aviation schools, pilots, logistics and transport companies, vehicle repairers, and metal production.

The Ministry is involved in two more disputes with PlaneStation. The first is about the unpaid rent for the years 2010 to 2012, which exceeds 44 million Czech crowns without late-payment interest . After the verdict of the District Court Plzeň-North from last September and the company's appeal, it will be discussed again by the regional court.

Another dispute about alleged unjust enrichment for unpaid rents from 2013 to the present is still at the district court. The annual rent was originally set at more than ten million Czech crowns per year, but it increased, for example, due to inflation.

According to Levý, the appeal does not have a suspensive effect. "However the company can request the Supreme Court to delay the enforceability, along with the appeal and then it's up to the Supreme Court," he stated. The company will request a delay in enforceability.

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