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

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement