Each month, one new airline in Cambodia. For October, Cambodian civil aviation authorities gave a AOC (Air Operator Certificate) to Lithuanian leisure carrier Small Planet Airlines. The carrier has obtained the AOC certificate to help counter European market seasonality.
Defunct Lithuanian scheduled services airline flyLAL assets were transferred in 2009 to its charter subsidiary flyLAL Charters, which was consequently rebranded in 2010 as Small Planet Airlines. With the new name, the airline embarked on a product upgrade to enable it to add more services, installing ergonomic seats on its new Boeing B737NG and now on its fleet of Airbus A320 and A321.
Small Planet Airlines already holds AOCs in three European countries: Lithuania, Poland and Germany flying from five bases. It will operate in Cambodia as a new company but it will use its existing branding. Originally the carrier wanted to operate out of Thailand but it did not manage to secure an AOC from Thai civil aviation authority.
According to the Phnom Penh Post, the AOC to Small Planet Airlines includes commercial airline’s operations. However, traffic rights will need to be asked to Cambodia State Secretariat of Civil Aviation to operate regularly.
The move into Asia by SPA is to counter seasonality. “Because we face challenging seasonality in Europe, since 2012 we have been moving part of our fleet to Asia in the winter. Last year we implemented highly successful projects in India, Saudi Arabia and Cambodia, and managed to fly more block hours in Asia than we did in Europe,” Small Planet Airlines CEO Kristijonas Kaikaris said to aviation specialist magazine ATW.
The new Small Planet Airlines is 51%-owned local investor Aviation Invest Cambodia. Small Planet Group owns 29% and the remaining 20% belongs to the company’s CEOs. The airline will base four aircraft for a start in Siem Reap. It intends to launch charter flights to China, Hong Kong and South Korea. According to SPA CEO, flights are due to in this coming winter season as it is a peak travel time for the Kingdom.
“Up to now, we were flying here only in cooperation with local airlines,” Cambodia-based Small Planet Airlines CEO Erikas Zubrus said. “We expect to have more independence when taking business decisions and improve our aircraft utilization.”