Delta Air Lines Inc.’s nonstop flight between Atlanta and Prague, Czech Republic, as well as the Southeast’s growing relationship with the Czech administration, will help Georgia companies increase business with the Eastern European country, according to George Novak.

Mr. Novak, the Czech honorary consul general in Atlanta, greeted Czech President Vaclav Klaus March 7 in Birmingham during an event hosted by the Birmingham International Center and former U.S. Ambassador to Czech Republic William Cabaniss, a native Alabamian.

“It’s just kicked the door open. The direct flight will help a lot,” Mr. Novak said of the nonstop Delta flight, which is scheduled to begin May 2. He and Mr. Cabaniss spoke with GlobalAtlanta following a Birmingham Rotary Club luncheon that featured Mr. Klaus [see full video interview].

Mr. Novak said increased business ties between the Southeast and the Czech Republic were underscored by the new flight. Mr. Novak is organizing a trade mission of Georgia companies and officials to visit the Czech Republic in May in conjunction with the inaugural flight.

The Georgia Allies, a group of Georgia companies that support the state’s continued economic development, are to use the flight to attend the Congress of Automotive News in Prague in June, Mr. Novak added.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is also expected to visit Prague in June, and Mr. Novak said he would ask Mr. Cabaniss to help set up a meeting between the governor and Mr. Klaus.

“Georgia is three years too late for me,” Mr. Cabaniss said, referring to his term as ambassador ending last summer. “But I’ll be going back to Prague, and I’ll be taking that direct flight from Atlanta,” he said of the Delta flight.

Mr. Cabaniss said that various businesspeople from Alabama have been exploring opportunities in the Czech Republic, and he will continue to try and convince Alabamian exporters to look to the country for new business.

He said that the Czech and Alabama economies have elements in common, including their dying textile industries that have been replaced with automotive manufacturing.

Mr. Klaus and a high-level Czech delegation visited Birmingham for the Birmingham International Center’s Spotlight on Czech Republic, an annual art and cultural event that features a different country each year.

The delegation also visited Houston, New Orleans and Montgomery, Ala., before traveling to Washington.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories

George Novak at (678) 587-9198

Birmingham International Center

GlobalAtlanta Related Story: Czech President Calls for Closer Ties with Southern U.S., Questions E.U. Status (includes video interview with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and video of his Birmingham speech)