Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Small Planet granted local Air Operator's Certificate

Small Planet granted local Air Operator's Certificate

A Small Planet Airlines A320 plane takes off in the United Kingdom in 2016.
A Small Planet Airlines A320 plane takes off in the United Kingdom in 2016. Aerol Pixels/Photo supplied

Small Planet granted local Air Operator's Certificate

The Kingdom’s aviation regulator yesterday granted an operator’s licence to Small Planet Airlines, allowing the Lithuanian-based leisure airline to operate flights from its new regional hub in Cambodia, civil aviation officials said.

“We granted an AOC [air operator’s certificate] to Small Planet Airlines to operate a commercial airline,” said Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesman of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA). “The AOC covers the technical [aspects] of operations but they will need additional permits for the routes they intend to fly.”

Small Planet Airlines began operations in 2009 and primarily operates charter flights from the hubs of its European subsidiaries in Lithuania, Poland and Germany to coastal resorts in the Mediterranean region.

The company also generates revenue by wet leasing some of its fleet – comprising 18 Airbus A320 and four A321 aircraft – to other airlines during the European winter low season.

Erikas Zubrus, CEO of Small Planet Airlines Cambodia, said the airline’s expansion into Asia was driven by the desire to redirect some of its operations to areas that have inverse seasonality to Europe.

“Part of the business model is to take advantage of seasonal traffic,” he said.

Small Planet Airlines had previously said that it intends to launch Cambodian operations with two aircraft based in Siem Reap geared for charter flights to China and South Korea. Zubrus, however, said the airline had not yet locked in its initial fleet and route plans, though he hoped flight operations would begin “before the next winter season, which is the peak travel period for Cambodia”.

He added that both charter and scheduled flights were under consideration, as well as the possibility of leasing aircraft to other local carriers on a seasonal basis.

A deal announced in September 2015 that would have seen Small Planet Airlines lease four of its A320s to Sky Angkor Air during the winter season fell through. No other leasing arrangements have been made, Zubrus said, while indicating that the airline could pursue leasing deals to unlock “mutual commercial benefits”.

Small Planet Airlines had initially hoped to establish an Asian hub in Thailand, but turned to Cambodia after the Thai regulator rejected its application for an AOC.

Zubrus did not rule out the possibility that the airline could still look to establish a Thai hub. However, he said Thailand’s aviation sector has been closed to new entrants since the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) flagged it following a safety audit in 2015.

“Thailand’s aviation sector was red-flagged by ICAO and cannot issue any new AOCs until it rectifies [various safety] issues,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The