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FORMED AND STARTED OPERATIONS IN 1938. FORMER AEROFLOT (ARO) DIVISION. FORMERLY "LITHUANIAN AIRLINES" AND LATER, "FLYLAL CHARTERS." REGIONAL & INTERNATIONAL, SCHEDULED & CHARTER, PASSENGER & CARGO, JET AIRPLANE SERVICES.
A. GUSTAICIO 4
LI-2512 VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
LITHUANIA WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1990 AND COVERS AN AREA OF 65,200 SQ KM. ITS POPULATION IS 3.8 MILLION, ITS CAPITAL CITY IS VILNIUS, AND ITS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IS LITHUANIAN.
Vilnius is the capital and the largest city of Lithuania. It is also the municipal center of Vilnius county and the surrounding region. It is worth mentioning that the city is situated in the actual geographical center of the European continent. Vilnius boasts impressive historical, archaeological and cultural heritage as well as numerous breathtaking churches built in different eras. The city hosts countless cultural and entertainment events for people of various tastes and interests. Moreover, Vilnius is the fastest developing capital in the Baltic States with a real potential and ambition to become the most attractive political, economic and cultural center in the context of the surrounding neighboring countries. Its old town is one of the largest in Eastern Europe and in 1994 due to its archaeological uniqueness as well as distinctive historical aura, it was placed on the (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
Vilnius is a baroque city which is characteristic of a truly cosmopolitan spirit and comfort. In the summer, the city hosts many music festivals for all tastes thus becoming a true capital of entertainment for its citizens and visitors from all over the world. The city is exceptionally beloved by those who appreciate high quality beer, good-looking women and basketball. Vilnius is also a popular choice for exciting stag parties. Those looking for a more culturally enlightening pastime can lose themselves in numerous museums, architectural monuments, churches with angelic sounds of bells and unique souvenir shops located all over the center of Vilnius.
For more on Vilnius, please visit:
MARCH 1993: TO EKATERINBURG, KIEV, GROZNYG, MINERAL VODY, MOSCOW, ODESSA, ST PETERSBURG, UFA, SAMARA, TASKENT, WARSAW, AMSTERDAM, BERLIN, COPENHAGEN, FRANKFURT, LONDON HEATHROW, PARIS, AND STOCKHOLM.
REQUESTED 737-200 EXTENDED TWIN-ENGINE OPERATIONS (ETOPS) INFORMATION FROM BOEING (TBC).
SEPTEMBER 1993: 2 ORDERS (APRIL 1995) 737-500'S.
JANUARY 1994: 1993 = +$2 MILLION (NET PROFIT).
1,125 EMPLOYEES (INCLUDING 117 FLIGHT CREW (FC), 81 CABIN ATTENDANTS (CA), & 351 MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS (MT).
MAY 1996: CODE SHARE WITH FINNAIR (FIN), TO HELSINKI.
SEPTEMBER 1996: AEROPLEX (ACE), HUNGARY, 3 YEAR MAINTENANCE CONTRACT FOR TECHNICAL SUPPORT FOR 3 737-200'S.
DECEMBER 1996: 1 SAAB 340B (248), LEASED.
MAY 1997: FOLLOWING POOREST FINANCIAL RESULTS, THE GOVERNMENT SACKED STASYS DAILYDKA DIRECTOR GENERAL, AND REPLACED HIM WITH 39 YEAR OLD, STASYS JARMALAVICIUS CHAIRMAN.
TO MERGE WITH SMALLER, NATIONAL CARRIER, AIR LITHUANIA, BY FALL OF 1997.
JULY 1997: 2ND SAAB 340B (255). SELLS TU-134A TO TRANSAGO.
SEPTEMBER 1997: PLANS TO LEASE 1 737-300 LATER THIS YEAR, & START TRANS-ATLANTIC SERVICE NEXT YEAR, WITH A 767. SOLD FLEET OF 7 YAK-42'S TO BHOJA AIR.
NOVEMBER 1997: TO TALLINN (SAAB 340).
MARCH 1998: 1 737-382 (24449), EX-(TAP) PORTUGAL, (ILF) 5 YEAR LEASED.
APRIL 1998: 1,200 EMPLOYEES.
1 737-382 (24366) (ILF) LEASED.
MAY 1998: STRATEGIC ALLIANCE WITH (SAS) (FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM).
OCTOBER 1998: 1997 = +$580,000 (+$1.55 MILLION). 1ST 6 MONTHS = 157 MILLION (RPK) TRAFFIC (+8.4%), 42.3% LF LOAD FACTOR(-.3), 1,22 MILLION (FTK) FREIGHT TRAFFIC (+6.1%), 114,000 PASSENGERS (PAX) (+16.3%).
2 SAAB 2000 TURBOPROPS (023; 025) DELIVERIES.
NOVEMBER 1998: $4.2 MILLION MAINTENANCE CONTRACT TO SABENA TECHNICS (SAB) FOR LITHUANIAN AIRLINES (LIJ) 737'S "D" CHECKS, AND (CFM56/JT8D) ENGINES.
DECEMBER 1998: 2 SAAB 2000'S (023; 025), SAAB LEASED. 737-382 (24449) RETURNED TO ILFC (ILF), LEASED TO BLUE PANORAMA (BPA).
JANUARY 1999: TERMINATES LEASE OF 737-2Q8 (22453) TO AEROSVIT (UKA).
APRIL 1999: 1,150 EMPLOYEES.
(http://www.lal.lt). (email@example.com). SITA: VNOCCTE.
737-59D (2186-26419), (SAS) LEASED.
JULY 1999: IGOR GAVRILENKO, MANAGER QUALITY CONTROL & QUALITY ASSURANCE.
SIGNS CONTRACT WITH BUREAU VERITAS (FRANCE) TO START PROCESS TO OBTAIN (JAR) 145 CERTIFICATION OF MAINTENANCE BASE BY MID-2000.
CHANGES LIVERY TO WHITE BODY WITH YELLOW, GREEN, AND RED STRIPES, ACROSS THE FUSELAGE AND TAIL.
737-500, EX-STERLING (STR) (YA-BFV) (26419), CHARLESTON PARTNERS, LONG TERM LEASED.
MARCH 2000: 1999 = 336.37 MILLION (RPK) TRAFFIC (-6.7%), 1.66 MILLION (FTK) FREIGHT (-27%), 244,000 (PAX) (-3.1%).
TERMINATED LEASE OF 737-500 (PT185). HEAVY MAINTENANCE CHECK AT BRITISH MIDLAND (BMA), AND RETURN TO SERVICE IN 2000-05.
APRIL 2000: KESTUTIS AURYLA GENERAL DIRECTOR.
1,181 EMPLOYEES (INCLUDING 129 FLIGHT CREW (FC), 98 CABIN ATTENDANTS (CA), & 301 MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS (MT)).
1ST QUARTER = -$3.5 MILLION (EXPECTS A PROFIT FOR YEAR AFTER STAFF REDUCTION OF -240 FROM 1,130, ROUTE REORGANIZATION, & OTHER RESTRUCTURING): 61.17 MILLION (RPK) TRAFFIC (+11.9%); 438,000 (FTK) FREIGHT (+24.2%); 49,000 (PAX) (+14.1%).
JUNE 2000: 737-59D (26419), RETURNED TO SCANDINAVIAN AIRLINES (SAS), LEASED TO BRITISH AIRWAYS (BAB).
JULY 2000: BORROWS $7.5 MILLION FROM INDUSTRY BANK TO PAY OFF DEBTS TO EUROCONTROL, VILNIUS AIRPORT, AND AIRPLANE LESSORS.
1999 = 336 MILLION (RPK) (-6.7%); 1.66 MILLION (FTK) (-27%); 244,000 (PAX) (-3.1%).
SEPTEMBER 2000: YAK-42D (4520424711396, RA-42353), RETURNED TO LESSOR. YAK-42D (4520424811431, LY-AAX), TO VNUKOVO (VNU).
OCTOBER 2000: JOINS europebyair.com'S FLIGHT PASS PROGRAM, WHICH COVERS 150 EUROPEAN CITIES.
DECEMBER 2000: AFTER >1 YEAR WITH WORKING WITH BUREAU VERITAS, FINALLY OBTAINS (JAR) 145 APPROVAL FOR LIGHT MAINTENANCE OF 737 AND SAAB 340/2000 AIRPLANES, INCLUDING OVERHAUL OF COMPONENTS: WHEELS & BRAKES, ESCAPE SLIDES, & LIFE JACKETS. FINAL GOAL IS TO ACQUIRE APPROVAL FOR HEAVY MAINTENANCE, INCLUDING AGING AIRPLANE PROGRAMS, & MODIFICATIONS, TO ATTRACT (CIS) CUSTOMERS OPERATING 737'S. THAT OBJECTIVE, REQUIRES MAJOR INVESTMENTS IN MODIFICATIONS TO ITS OLD-STYLE HANGAR & ACQUISITION OF ADDITIONAL (GSE) TO COMPLY WITH (JAR) 145 REQUIREMENTS.
FEBRUARY 2001: 2000 = -$5 MILLION: 414.95 MILLION (RPK) (+23.4%); 1.7 MILLION (FTK), (+2%), 295,000 (PAX) (+20.8%).
APRIL 2001: STASIS ERMALAUCHUS GENERAL DIRECTOR.
1,181 EMPLOYEES (INCLUDING 129 FLIGHT CREW (FC), 98 CABIN ATTENDANTS (CA), & 301 MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS (MT)).
MAIN BASE: VILNIUS (INTERNATIONAL).
OCTOBER 2001: CODE SHARE WITH IBERIA (IBE), VILNIUS TO LONDON TO MADRID.
DECEMBER 2001: EXPECTS TO PHASE OUT ITS 737-200'S BY 2002-04, WHEN STAGE 3 NOISE RESTRICTIONS OCCUR. POSSIBLE 2 ORDERS 737-300, (ILF) LEASED. 1 OF 2 SAAB 340'S TO BE RETURNED TO LESSOR.
JANUARY 2002: 2001 = 437.69 MILLION (RPK) (+5.5%); 1.53 MILLION (FTK) (-9.7%); 314,000 (PAX) (+6.4%).
APRIL 2002: 1,181 EMPLOYEES (INCLUDING 129 FLIGHT CREW (FC); 98 CABIN ATTENDANTS (CA); & 301 MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS (MT)).
MAIN BASE: VILNIUS INTERNATIONAL (VNO).
OWNERS/SHAREHOLDERS: REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (100%).
May 2002: 1 737-300 (23808), ex-Air Europa, Babcock (BBB) leased.
August 2002: To be partly privatized with 49% offered to international investors, and 17% to Lithuanian interests.
September 2002: Code share with Iberia (IBE) to Madrid and Paris (5x-weekly).
November 2002: Successfully completed modifications to maintenance hangar facility, and is in the process of gaining (JAR) 145 approval for its 737 heavy maintenance program. Once obtained, Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ) will try to sell their 3rd party 737 maintenance services.
Successfully completed its 1st "D" maintenance check on 737-200 (PL611) at its maintenance facility in Vilnius. 2 orders (2003-05) 737-300's or 737-500's, to replace 2 other 737-300's, which will be returned when their leases expire. 1 ATR 72 delivery.
December 2002: The Government is to sell 34% of Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ) for LTL3.27 Million/$972,000. The investing airline (which must be a member of a global alliance) will be allowed to increase its stake to 66%, by buying shares at face value of LTL9.04 Million. Some 70% of (LIJ)'s 820 employees, must be retained for 1 year, following privatization. One potential bidder is Finnair (FIN).
February 2003: Next month, Vilnius to Brussels (Saab 2000, 3x-weekly). Kaunas to Palanga to Malmo (Sturup) (ATR 42, 5x-weekly).
Plans to replace its 2 737-300's with 2 737-500's.
March 2003: Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) confirmed its interest in being the sole potential buyer for a stake in Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ). (LIJ) wants to sell a 34% stake to an investor who will commit to raising that to 66%, valued at $3.9 Million, with the state retaining 34%. In 2002, (LIJ) carried 300,000 passengers on routes to 13 countries from Vilnius, with a fleet of 7 airplanes. Final bids are due by 2003-06, and deal is expected to be concluded by 2003-08.
2002 = 421.73 Million (RPK) (-3.6%); 304,000 (-3%); 1.48 Million (FTK) (-3.2%).
911 employees (including 189 Flight Crew (FC); 104 Cabin Attendants (CA); & 232 Maintenance Technicians (MT)).
April 2003: 2 737-524's (26339, LY-AGQ; 26340), ex-Continental Airlines (CAL), (ILF) 5 year leased.
July 2003: 780 employees.
January 2004: Vidas Zvinys stated that to allow Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ) to concentrate on its core operations, it plans to sell its shares in subsidiaries including caterer Aero-Chef-LAL (50.8%), tour operator Aviaturas & Partners (52%), and regional airline Air Lithuania (100%).
2003 = +2.2 Million litas/+$805,000 (+$10.94 Million): 409.9 Million (RPK) (-2.8%); 55.4% LF; 312,000 (PAX) (+2.5%); 38.64 Million (FTK) (-3.1%).
March 2004: Subsidiary, Air Lithuania (LTA) was sold to Arijus, a freight forwarding and logistics company.
May 2004: Resumes Vilnius to Paris (CDG) (3x-weekly). Code share with Aeroflot (ARO), Vilnius to Moscow (SVO).
3rd 737-500 delivery. 1 ATR 42-300, Air Lithuania wet-leased.
August 2004: Vilnius to Dublin (737-500, 3/week).
September 2004: 720 employees.
October 2004: Code share with Aeroflot (ARO), Vilnius to Moscow.
December 2004: Code share with DonbassAero, Vilnius to Kiev. In 2005-05, Air Lithuania (LIJ) operations, Palanga to Cologne/Bonn, Palanga to Munich (weekly).
April 2005: Next month, Tallinn to Barcelona (3x-weekly), Tallinn to Pulkovo Airport (3x-weekly), & increase to Dublin, Paris & Kiev (all 5x-weekly), to Brussels (6x-weekly). Will increase capacity by flying 737's to Brussels, Milan, & Moscow.
May 2005: Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ), as the national carrier of Lithuania, offers domestic and international scheduled services from its main base in Vilnius. It also runs its own tour operator, Aviaturas & Partners, a cargo terminal in Vilnius Airport for Lithuanian Airlines Cargo, a catering joint venture with Aero-Chef-LAL, and the airline company Air Lithuania.
(IATA) Code: TE - 874. (ICAO) Code: LIL (Callsign - LITHUANIA AIR).
Parent organization/shareholders: Republic of Lithuania (state property fund) (100%).
Owns: Air Lithuania (100%).
Alliances: Aeroflot Russian Airlines (ARO); (CSA) Czech Airlines; Donbassaero; Finnair (FIN); Iberia Airlines (IBE); (KLM); & (LOT) Polish Airlines; & SN Brussels Airlines (DAT).
Main Base: Vilnius International airport (VNO).
Domestic, Scheduled Destinations: Palanga, & Vilnius.
International, Scheduled Destinations: Amsterdam; Berlin; Brussels; Copenhagen; Dublin; Helsinki; Kiev; London; Madrid; Milan; Moscow; & Stockholm.
September 2005: As part of 14th anniversary, renamed from "Lithuanian Airlines" to "FlyLAL." The new logo holds the symbols of traveling by air and was designed by Vaidotas Skolevicius, the creator of other logos of known Lithuanian brands.
December 2005: FlyLal (LIJ) inaugurates nonstop service from Palanga to London Gatwick operating Saturdays & Sundays with a 737.
January 2006: Full year 2005 = Passenger traffic 867.58 Million (RPK) (+34.3%); Freight traffic 1.27 Billion (FTK) (+8.7%); 542,000 passengers (+22.3%).
February 2006: Swedish Low-Cost Carrier (LCC), FlyMe (FME) has committed to acquiring Lithuanian Airlines, now re-branded as FlyLAL (LIJ). FlyMe (FME) will be issued a 33% stake in Lithuanian (LIJ) and gain control through the appointment of a new Managing Director and the majority of the board. It will purchase the remaining shares over the next 3 years. FlyMe (FME), headquartered in Gothenburg, launched 2 years ago and operates 5 737s. Lithuanian (LIJ), which was privatized last year, flies 5 737-500s and 2 Saab 2000s and runs its own jet airplane Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) operation.
March 2006: Flylal (LIJ) will inaugurate service on the following routes:
From Palanga to:
Berlin (TXL) = 1x- (Saturdays) Saab-2000 on May 20;
Cologne = 1x- (Saturdays) Saab-2000 on May 20;
Dublin = 1x- (Saturdays) 737-500 on May 20;
Frankfurt = 1x- (Saturdays) Saab-2000 on May 20;
Hamburg = 7x- (Daily) Saab-2000 on April 10;
Hannover = 1x- (Saturdays) Saab-2000 on May 20;
Munich = 1x- (Saturdays) Saab-2000 on May 20;
Oslo = 3x- (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays) Saab-2000 on April 10;
St Petersburg = 3x- (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays) Saab-2000 on April 10.
From Vilnius to:
Dubrovnik = 1x- (Saturdays) Saab-2000 on May 20;
Istanbul = 2x- (Tuesdays, Fridays) Saab-2000 on March 28;
Rome (FCO) = 2x- (Thursdays, Sundays) 737-500 on April 2;
Simferopol = 2x- (Mondays, Wednesdays) Saab-2000 on May 1;
Thessaloniki = 2x- (Mondays, Saturdays) 737-500 on May 20.
FlyMe (FME) is diversifying from its focus on Swedish service and will start offering low-fare flights from its base at Gothenburg Landvetter to 11 destinations in Europe beginning March 30. Destinations include London Stansted, Beauvais Tille, Nice, Amsterdam, Prague, Malaga, Alicante, Rome Ciampino, Palma de Mallorca, Rhodos and Crete Chania airport. From June 1, (FME) will launch the direct route Gothenburg to Barcelona. From its hub in Stockholm Arlanda, FlyMe (FME) flies to Gothenburg Landvetter, Malmo Sturup, Ostersund and Helsinki Vantaa.
FlyMe (FME) operates 5 737-300 airplanes, and announced last month it will acquire Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ) in full, subject to due diligence. The agreement was initiated by 2 major shareholders in FlyMe (FME), Icelandic investment company Fons and Sweden-based Cognition. New shares will be issued to FlyMe (FME) for 33% of the total. FlyMe (FME) then will take control of Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ) with the appointment of a new Managing Director and the majority of the board of directors, including the Chairman. Under the agreement with Lithuanian (LIJ), FlyMe (FME) will buy the rest of the shares during the next 3 years.
Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ) used to be government controlled until last year, when it was privatized and sold to a group of Lithuanian investors. The airline has about 40% market share in Lithuania. It flies to 11 international destinations from Vilnius, with a fleet of 5 737-500s and 2 SAAB 2000s.
737-5Q8 (28052, LY-AZX), wet-leased to Interstate Airlines (a Dutch wet-lease specialist) for operations in Italy (from Regio Calabria to Bologna, Rome & Turin, based at Milan Malpensa airport for a 4 month contract with Aeroservizzi, flying leisure travellers to Greece & Spain), for "SOGAS" (http://www.sogas.it) (see photo).
April 2006: 1st 3 months = 153.4 million passenger traffic -3.1% (RPK), 297 thousand freight traffic +16.6% (FTK), 92 thousand passengers -5.5%.
FlyLAL (LIJ) will invest in 2 additional hangars, starting construction in June and be completed in autumn of 2006 for FlyLAL (LIJ) Technics (firstname.lastname@example.org), its Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility.
June 2006: Flylal (LIJ) will inaugurate nonstop service from Palanga (Lithuania) to Amsterdam on July 3rd. The airline will operate 3 flights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, using a Saab 2000.
September 2006: Eurocontrol (EC) accepted Lithuania as its 37th member state.
August 2007: 737-35B (25069, LY-AQV) leaves Keflavik ex-(N225DL).
December 2007: The FlyLAL (LIJ) Group announced the opening of a 5,000-sq-m hangar at Vilnius. Subsidiary, FlyLAL (LIJ) Technics will operate it, conducting Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) services on 737s and A320s, including maintenance checks, engine replacements, and other repairs plus modifications.
(CHAMP) Cargosystems announced agreements with AeroRepublica (REU), Air Namibia (NAM), flyLAL Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ), TESIS, and Uzbekistan Airlines (UZB) to transition the airlines to fully automated cargo systems.
March 2008: (CTC) Aviation and flyLAL (LIJ) Training signed an agreement to cooperate in the training and supply of flight deck (FC) and cabin crew (CA). The contract calls for delivery of training courses and other activities to support airlines in Europe and Russia.
FlyLAL Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ) has been invited to join SkyTeam (STM) as an associate member, the carrier announced, joining Spain's Air Europa (ARE), Panama's Copa Airlines (COP), and Kenya Airways (KEN) in the alliance's associate program. Tarom (TRM) of Romania and Beirut-based, Middle East Airlines (MEA) also are potential associate members. FlyLAL (LIJ) said the invitation followed a 2-year negotiation and that "final criteria for admission" and a join date "will be confirmed in the short run." It currently operates 3 737-300s, 5 737-500s and 4 Saab 2000s. It plans to introduce a 737-200 on April 1.
May 2008: FlyLAL (LIJ), as the national carrier of Lithuania, offers domestic and international, scheduled, jet airplane services from its main base in Vilnius to some 20 major cities in Europe Dublin and London Stansted are also served from Palanga. It also runs its own tour operator, Aviaturas & Partners (email@example.com), and a cargo terminal in Vilnius Airport for Lithuanian Airlines Cargo (firstname.lastname@example.org), and a catering joint venture with Aero-Chef-LAL.
Employees = 542.
(IATA) Code: TE - 874. (ICAO) Code: LIL (Callsign - LITHUANIA AIR).
Parent organization/shareholders: FlyLal Group (100%).
Alliances: Aeroflot Russian Airlines (ARO); Donbassaero (UDC); Finnair (FIN); Iberia Airlines (IBE); (KLM); & Brussels Airlines (DAT/EBA).
Main Base: Vilnius International Airport (VNO).
Domestic, Scheduled Destinations: Palanga, & Vilnius.
International, Scheduled Destinations: Amsterdam; Brussels; Dublin; Frankfurt; Helsinki; Kiev; London; Milan; Moscow; Paris; & Stockholm.
October 2008: 737-522 (26739; LY-AWD) wet-leased to SCAT (VSV).
January 2009: FlyLAL Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ) has been purchased by (SCH) Swiss Capital Holdings for $1 million plus an agreement to cover debt of some €1 million/$1.4 million. "We were looking for an airline to purchase, and this is a good company to invest in. FlyLAL (LIJ) can be a very strong regional carrier," (SCH) (CEO) Jan Erik Jansson told the "Associated Press," adding that the firm does not "see these debts as a big problem." The sale will take effect on January 23, according to reports.
(LIJ) was privatized in 2005 and was held by several Lithuanian investors. It lost -LTL8.1 million/-$3.2 million in 2007, according to "Agence France Presse," and last month was rebuffed in its attempt to sell a 51% stake back to the government for a "symbolic" LTL1. At that point it announced the suspension of service to Istanbul Ataturk, Rome Fiumicino, and Paris Charles de Gaulle, and a reduction of flights to Frankfurt and Milan.
On December 19 (LIJ) said its debt amounted to LTL89 million, of which LTL47.5 million was owed to shareholders. Just before Christmas, (CEO) Vytautas Kaikaris was forced to issue an official denial of rumors that it was on the verge of suspending all operations. It operates 4 737-500s and 3 Saab 2000s.
Later, FlyLAL Lithuanian Airlines (LIJ) ceased operations after its acquisition by (SCH) Swiss Capital Holdings fell through. The Swiss investment fund agreed to purchase the troubled carrier this month for $1 million plus an agreement to cover debt of an additional €1 million/$1.3 million, but (LIJ) said that (SCH) "did not fulfill its obligations under the agreement" and that it "cannot secure the continuity of its operations and satisfy the demands of its creditors." (SCH) did not transfer the funds in time, (LIJ) (CEO) Vytautas Kaikaris said, adding that shutting down was "the only possible course."
(LIJ)'s last flight left Amsterdam and it said that >29,400 passengers were affected by the shutdown. It said its debt, which is not covered by assets, stands at approximately LTL90 million/$34.3 million and that in addition to the current industry downturn, its bottom line was affected by a fleet that "did not correspond to the new market conditions." Falling load factors meant that "flight operations only increased the airline's loss," it said.
(LIJ) employed 360 and operated 9 737-300s/-500s, 2 757-200s and 3 Saab 2000s. It left open the possibility for a relaunch, with Kaikaris saying that it is "open for further proposals" as long as they are received in the coming days. Otherwise, it will file for bankruptcy.
It has filed a lawsuit against airBaltic (BAU) and Riga International Airport for LTL200 million, claiming "unfair competition." (LIJ) said its financial circumstances would "change substantially" if the suit is successful.
Later, (LIJ) filed for bankruptcy, less than a week after shutting down following its failed sale to a Swiss investment group. "We looked at all possible options to continue operations, but being unable to continue flights and without seeing any real chances to renew operations, we were forced to file for bankruptcy," (CEO) Vytautas Kaikaris said in a statement. (LIJ) previously had said it was "open for further proposals" but that they must come quickly. A Vilnius International spokesperson told "Reuters" that it is negotiating with 6 carriers to fill the gap left by (LIJ).
May 2010: FlyLAL charters PL, a Lithuania-based charter airline, said it received an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) from Polish authorities and began operating passenger charter flights from Warsaw and Katowice aboard a 737-300. The 1st flight took place May 20 from Warsaw to Heraklion and service from Katowice will launch this month to Palma de Mallorca.
August 2010: Defunct Lithuanian scheduled services airline, flyLAL's assets continue to be operated by flyLAL Charters, but the company has decided to rebrand as "Small Planet Airlines." It said in conjunction with the new name, it is embarking on a product upgrade to enable it to add more services. It plans to install ergonomic seats from Acro Aircraft Seating on new 737NGs arriving that are replacing its 737 Classics.
“The main catalyst for the rebranding was our international growth," (CEO) Vytautas Kaikaris explained. "The previous brand "flyLAL" was associated with scheduled flights, business travel and Lithuania, whereas today our business strength is in charter flights in 4 European countries: Italy, Poland, Estonia, and Lithuania.” The new brand image and focus on passenger service will be supported by the renovation of the airline’s fleet. Its 1st 2 737NGs are scheduled to be delivered in the 2011 summer.
In 2009, flyLAL/Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) carried >500,000 passengers and generated revenue of €46 million/$59.1 million. It aims to transport 2 million passengers annually by 2012. Owned by Avia Solution Group, (LIJ) provides full charter, wet-lease (ACMI) and ad-hoc solutions to tour operators and airlines.
September 2010: See new "SMALL PLANET" corporate livery on new 737-382 (25161, LY-FLH).
SEE PHOTO - "(LIJ)-737-382 - NEW LIVERY-2010-09."
November 2010: Small Planet Airways (LIJ) has expanded its Western European activity by confirming plans in the United Kingdom and Ireland for winter 2010/2011. (LIJ) will position a 737-300 at Bristol airport, England from December 2010, to support contracts to the Canary Islands and several European ski resorts.
December 2010: Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) will operate weekly, Bristol to Chambery charter flights for Esprit; Cork to Fuerteventura for Sunway; and Dublin to Geneva for Topflight. (LIJ), part of Avia Solutions Group, operates a fleet of 5 737-300s.
June 2011: A J Walter Aviation (AJW) won a contract with Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) to provide integrated consumables management, supporting charter flight programs from Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa this year. (LIJ) operates a fleet of 6 737-300s and 2 A320s. (LIJ) operates flights to Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and Italy.
July 2011: Vilnius International, Lithuania's busiest airport,was granted precision approach CAT II status. It is the first airport in the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to achieve CAT II. The airport anticipates that the implementation of the new system will reduce the number of days runways are closed owing to difficult meteorological conditions to approximately seven annually from a previous per year average of 15.
November 2011: Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) further expands its sales force by entering the Benelux and France markets. This expansion will allow the airline to gain even stronger position in Western Europe. Vytautas Kaikaris, (CEO) of (LIJ), commented: “We are continuously expanding our services to European markets. This year, we started charter flights from United Kingdom and Ireland having signed initial three charter contracts for the winter season and one for upcoming summer. We have also received an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) in Italy and established bases in Milan Malpensa and Rome Fumicino airports. Now, we strongly believe that Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, and France are interesting markets with great potential for us. Having expanded our sales force in these countries we believe we will offer local tour operators same excellent level of service.”
Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) and Neckermann, a leading Polish travel agency, have signed a 3-year deal to operate flights from Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary, to Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Spain, and Egypt resorts.
“Having accumulated much experience in Polish leisure travel market, we offer high level, professional and safe services to Polish tourists and our partners. Our trustworthiness, reliable airplane fleet, passionate passenger service, and strong experience in the charter business have earned us recognition amongst the largest travel organizers. The long-term agreement signed with Neckermann and Thomas Cook will allow us to further expand within the Polish market and other European countries,“ said the (CEO) of Small Planet Airlines (LIJ), Vytautas Kaikaris.
“The cooperation perfectly fits with the Neckermann Polska strategy which is orientated towards the development of our portfolio based on an increased number of departures from local airports. At the beginning of December, we are launching a sale of our summer flights emphasizing new departure possibilities as well as merits of early booking” said the (CEO) of Neckermann Poland, Marek Wgierek.
December 2011: Turkish Technic (THY) inked a base maintenance services agreement and a paint services agreement with SmartLynx Airlines (LIJ) for one "C" maintenance check on an A320.
January 2012: Small Planet Airlines Estonia (ICAO) Code: ESC, based in Tallinn, has been sold by its Lithuanian parent Avia Solutions Group to Estonian investor, Brova Air that is expected to re-brand the charter carrier operating a single 737-300 to North Wind Airlines.
Small Planet Airlines Poland (IATA) Code: LLP, based in Warsaw, which currently operates an A320-200 and a 737-300 will get additional airplanes from its sister carrier Small Planet Airlines, Vilnius, next summer season after it has entered into a major charter contract with Polish tour operator Neckermann.
Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) leases 737-300 to support the African Nations Soccer Tournament.
March 2012: The fleet of the European leisure charter carrier Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) in Poland has been replenished by another A320 type of airplane. It is planned that the carrier will start operating the airplane in the beginning of April. The new airplane that had been issued with the (SP-HAC) registration, landed at the Warsaw International Frederic Chopin Airport on the 9th of March.
‘Last year, we forecasted that our largest serviced market this year was going to be Poland. Our prognoses were confirmed by the sharp increase in the number of Polish passengers travelling to Greece, Spain, Italy, and Bulgaria during the last holiday season. In the Warsaw International Airport, passenger numbers have increased by +7.2% last year. It is only natural that whilst cooperating with the largest travel operators in the region, we are also expanding our airplane fleet,’ commented the (CEO) of Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) Vytautas Kaikaris.
The new A320 accommodates 180 passengers and may fly without landing up to 5700 km at the speed of 900 km per hour.
According to Vytautas Kaikaris, Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) does not intend to confine only to the Polish market. By 2014, the company is looking to introduce more destinations from other European countries and expand their fleet even further. Currently (LIJ) operates in the Lithuanian, Polish, British, Italian and French markets. Small Planet Airlines closely cooperates with the largest and most known tour operators and carries holidaymakers to the most popular holiday destinations such as Greece, Spain, Turkey, Egypt, Bulgaria and Italy. Currently the company’s fleet consists of 6 737-300s and 2 A320s.
May 2012: Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) has started selling some of the seats on its charter flights on behalf of Lithuanian tour operators directly. It will makee some limited seats available on its routes from Vilnius International (VNO) to Antalya (AYT), Barcelona El Prat International (BCN), Burgas International (BOJ), Dalaman (DLM), Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis (HER), Kos (KGS), Larnaca (LCA), Palma de Mallorca Son Sant Joan (PMI), Rhodos Diagoras/Maritsa (RHO) and Rijeka (RJK) airports.
April 2013: Small Planet Airlines (LIJ), an independent charter company, announced a buyout of 99.5% of Small Planet Airlines UAB (Lithuania) and Small Planet Airlines Sp. Z o.o. (Poland) shares from Lithuania-based Avia Solutions Group.
The move will allow the group to focus on its other aviation segments, including airplane maintenance, ground handling and aviation training.
Vytautas Kaikaris, (CEO) of Small Planet Airlines (LIJ), will take over a 70% stake in the company’s shares and Chief Quality Officer, Andrius Staniulis will control the remaining 30% of Small Planet’s Lithuanian and Polish subsidiaries.
The Italian franchise Small Planet Airlines will retain its current shareholding structure, which is 60%-owned by Italian company S.G.S.T., 35.5%-owned by Avia Solutions Group and 4.5%-owned by Kaikaris.
Key markets include Poland, the UK, Italy, France, and Lithuania from where the carrier transports passengers to Greece, Spain, Turkey, and Egypt.
The 2 airlines operate 8 airplanes, comprising 5 737s and 3 A320s. Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) plans to expand its fleet to 9 airplanes this summer. 3 airplanes will fly from Poland and 6 airplanes will fly to the UK, France, and Lithuania.
For 2012, Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) reported revenue of €94.4 million/$121 million, up +58.7% year-over-year. The Polish carrier’s revenue reached €36.7 million, a +75% increase from 2011. The Lithuanian subdivision revenue totaled €57.7 million, up +50% from the year-ago period.
SEE ATTACHED: - LIJ-2013-04 - AVIA SOLUTIONS SALE."
By the end of 2013, the company plans on having an all-Airbus (EDS) fleet across its two Air Operator Certificates (AOC)s in Lithuania and Poland, a decision based mainly on leasing opportunities. The company recently returned its 2 leased 737-300s and leased 5 new A320s. "The decision to change from Boeing (TBC) to Airbus (EDS) was made >2 years ago," Vytautas Kaikaris (CEO) of (LIJ) said. "At the time when we decided to upgrade our fleet from 737 Classics, the 1st option was 737-800s. However, these planes were scarce (and continue to be scarce) in the leasing market and therefore we opted for A320s, which we found more available and of very similar qualities as the Boeing NG airplanes."
May 2013: Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) named Halldor Sigurdarson as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
June 2013: 737-35B (23972, LY-BGC), ex-(LY-SKA), Grand Cru Airlines leased for Small Planet Airlines Poland ((IATA) Code: P7, (ICAO) Code: LLP (Callsign - "SKYPOL"). A320-231 (0662, UR-DAK), ex-(F-WTAU), AVIATRANS - (KCA) leased.
MD-83 (49627, SX-BTM), Aeolian Airlines wet-leased, ex-(TF-JXC), to Small Planet Airlines Italia ((IATA) Code: P2, (ICAO) Code: LLI - (Callsign - AURIGA)).
July 2013: A320-231 (0415, LY-SPC), Triton (TIA) leased.
September 2013: Air Lituanica (LUA), in cooperation with Small Planet Airlines (LIJ), will offer holiday service December 20 to January 4 with 14 flights each Vilnius to London (LGW) and to Dublin, and 10 each Palanga to London (LGW), and to Dublin.
Independent holiday charter Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) has signed lease agreements with Aircastle (CSL) and (CIT) Aerospace (TCI) to lease 3 A320-220s as it continues its fleet renewal program. From next spring, 1 A320 will be based in Lithuania, another 1 in Poland, and the 3rd 1 will be a backup airplane. (LIJ) will return 2 of its oldest airplanes to its owners. Next year, (LIJ)’s fleet will comprise 10 airplanes, 1 of which will be a stand-by unit.
“We are already preparing for the next season,” Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) (CEO) Vytautas Kaikaris said. “We signed the agreements regarding additional 3 A320s with deliveries in February, March and April 2014. This will ensure that the start of the next season will be smooth.”
The lease of new A320 is in line with (LIJ)’s fleet renewal strategy. In three years, the company has reduced the number of 737-300 airplanes from 4 to 1, whereas the number of A320s grew from 2 to 9 as (LIJ) rapidly expanded in the UK, France, and Poland.
January 2014: Italian National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) grounded Small Planet Airlines Italia on January 20 due to its fragile financial situation, although its Lithuanian franchise parent, Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) is still operating normally.
In a statement posted on Small Planet Airlines Italia’s website, President, Stefano Canessa confirmed that all flights were suspended from January 20 following an “unexpected communication” from the (ENAC) on January 17. “This suspension was purely for economic and financial reasons and has nothing to do with the safety of our flight operations, which have always complied fully with the law,” Canessa said.
(ENAC) described Small Planet Airline Italia’s recent financial performance as “critical,” adding it had already placed a block on ticket sales beyond February 15. “They failed the essential requirements relating to financial aspects for the maintenance of the license,” (ENAC) said.
However, Canessa believes operations will resume shortly. “I'm extremely sorry for the inconvenience caused, but we are also confident that in a short time we will be able to provide the authorities all the evidence and clarifications of our economic and financial situation needed to restore flight operations,” he said.
Rome Fiumicino-based Boeing 737 operator, Small Planet Airlines Italia secured its Italian air operator’s certificate (AOC) in June 2011. It is a franchise of Lithuanian company Small Planet Airlines (LIJ), which provides the Italian carrier with brand rights, a subleased Boeing 737-700 and flight dispatch services.
“The suspension of the license of the Italian company shall in no way affect our companies in Lithuania and Poland,” the Lithuanian company said, distancing itself from its grounded partner.
It added that Small Planet Airlines Italia is owned by Aeroservizi (64.5%) and Avia Solutions Group (35.5%), whereas the Lithuanian Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) is 70% owned by (CEO) Vytautas Kaikaris and 30% owned by (COO) Andrius Staniulis.
Kaikaris did hold 4.5% of Small Planet Airlines Italia, but sold the stake in April 2013. Small Planet Airlines Italia was due to stop using the "Small Planet" brand at the end of 2013.
“[The] financial difficulties of Small Planet Italia have been known for some time. Therefore, the management teams of the respective companies have discussed payment schedule and agreed on termination of the agreement on use of Small Planet Airlines trademark,” the Lithuanian firm said.
Small Planet Airlines in Lithuania (LIJ) and Poland operates a fleet of 10 airplanes and carried >1 million passengers in 2013. The company was created from the assets of defunct Lithuanian scheduled carrier flyLAL.
March 2014: Lithuanian leisure carrier Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) launched Airbus A320 flights from Tripoli International Airport to Düsseldorf, London Gatwick and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports at the end of March.
July 2014: A320-232 (0990, LY-SPD), ex-(VN-A195), AirCastle (CSL) leased.
December 2014: Small Planet Airlines ((IATA) Code: S5, based at Vilnius) (LIJ) said it is looking to base 2 A320-200 aircraft out of Bangkok Don Mueang by autumn of next year as part of plans to tap into the Thai domestic and regional market using its Small Planet Airlines Thailand (Bangkok Don Mueang) subsidiary.
(LIJ), the Lithuanian wet-lease (ACMI) specialist said it is now in pursuit of a Thai Air Operators Certificate (AOC) which, once secured, would allow it to start carrying tourists from China and South Korea to Bangkok.
May 2015: A320-214 (4203, LY-ONJ), ex-(EI-ONJ), Afriqiyah Airways (AQY) leased.
July 2015: A320-214 (0967, LY-SPF), ex-(EI-FKG), AirCastle (CSL) leased.
October 2015: News Item A: Small Planet Airlines ((IATA) Code: S5, based at Vilnius) (LIJ) Head of Marketing, Simonas Bartkus, said (LIJ), the wet-lease (ACMI)/charter specialist's newest subsidiary, Small Planet Airlines Germany (based at Berlin Schönefeld) (LIG) will begin operations later this quarter.
In an interview with airliners.de, Bartkus said Small Planet Germany (LIG) would partner with German travel broker, Involatus in offering scheduled charter flights from Hanover, Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel, Münster/Osnabrück, Dusseldorf, and Zurich to Fuerteventura and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. Under the terms of the deal, two A320-200s will be based in the Spanish islands for the duration of operations this winter.
Small Planet Airlines Germany (LIG) has secured yet another tour operator contract, this time with Thomas Cook (GUE)/(JMA) covering the Summer 2016 season.
According to Germany's (FVW), Small Planet Airlines Germany (LIG) will base an A320-200 in Paderborn/Lippstadt for flights to Palma de Mallorca Son Sant Joan and Antalya on behalf of the tour operator.
Small Planet (LIJ)'s planned Summer 2016 roster will be disclosed later in the year with aircraft to be operated by Small Planet Airlines Germany (LIG).
Small Planet Airlines Germany (LIG) said it has secured a deal with (TUI) Deutschland amid plans to operate flights from Bremen Neuenland and Paderborn/Lippstadt to Rhodes, Heraklion, Kos, Menorca, and Burgas during the summer 2016 season.
A total of 14 flights per week, or >300 in total, are planned with the new German tour operator.
News Item A-2: Vilnius International Airport has announced it will close to all traffic between July 14, 2017 and August 18, 2017 to allow for the complete reconstruction of its main runway 02/20.
The airport said in a press communique that the nature of works required the complete shutdown of the airport during the period and as a result, all operations would be transferred to the neighboring city of Kaunas, which is just 85 km away.
February 2016: "INCDT: Passenger Jet Veers Off Runway at Birmingham Airport by Sky News (UK), February 21, 2016.
An aircraft with 98 passengers on board ended up on a grass verge after it went off the runway following its landing. The plane was making its way to the terminal at Birmingham Airport UK, when it "manoeuvred" off the tarmac, said officials.
Once it stopped, all passengers were safely taken off the Airbus A320 and transferred to the terminal. No-one is thought to have been injured.
The fire service and other emergency teams were at the scene but the single runway was fully operational throughout the drama. The plane, operated by Small Planet Airlines (LIJ), had arrived from Paderborn in Germany when the incident in Bickenhill, Solihull took place. It was towed out of the grass about 2 hours later, and back on to the taxiway. The airport said: "An A320 aircraft belonging to charter company, Small Planet (LIJ), has manoeuvred off the taxiway onto grass after landing from Paderborn. "Passengers have safely disembarked and have been bussed to the terminal. There are no reports of injuries."
March 2016: News Item A-1: Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) has selected (AMOS) Essentials Edition for its 18 Airbus A320s. Go live is scheduled for June 31, 2016.
News Item A-2: FL Technics will carry out cabin re-design and refurbishment work on Small Planet Airlines (LIJ)’s 13 Airbus A320s. The first retrofitted aircraft has been delivered. The work covers installation of new seats, upgrading of cabin lighting, replacement of forward partitions and carpet fitting, unification of emergency equipment and mounting of a new decorative (LED) logo on partitions.
October 2017: Lithuanian leisure carrier Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) has obtained a Cambodian air operator’s certificate (AOC) to help counter European market seasonality.
(LIJ), which launched in 2009, already holds (AOC)s in 3 European countries: Lithuania, Poland and Germany. It will operate in Cambodia as a new company, using its existing branding. “Due to a 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.
The new Cambodian-based company (also called Small Planet Airlines (LIJ)) is 51%-owned local investor Aviation Invest Cambodia. Small Planet Group owns 29% and the remaining 20% belongs to the company’s (CEO)s.
Small Planet (LIJ) is no stranger to the country; it has been active there for 4 winter seasons and this winter the group will operate 5 aircraft in Cambodia. “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.”
One aircraft has already been registered on the Cambodian (AOC) and this should grow to 3 aircraft this winter and 6 over the next 2 years.
Small Planet (LIJ) is aiming to use the new (AOC) to expand its presence in Hong Kong, South Korea and China. It is seeking foreign carrier approvals and designations in countries such as Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and the Pacific islands. “If everything goes according to plan, the company will have the capacity to carry one million passengers yearly. Most available seats will be sold through local travel agencies,” Small Planet (LIJ) said.
The Cambodian airline currently employs 25 people, but this is expected to grow up to 200 in a couple of years, with a focus on local staff.
The group operates 18 Airbus A320s and 4 A321s to holiday destinations, including Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Italy, Spain, and Egypt.
Small Planet (LIJ) initially looked at gaining a Thai (AOC), but the reluctance of the local regulator to hand out licenses persuaded the carrier to focus on neighboring Cambodia.
December 2017: Rapidly growing low cost carrier (LCC) Norwegian (NWG) has acquired 28 weekly slots at London Gatwick Airport from Lithuanian leisure carrier Small Planet Airlines (LIJ).
February 2018: Lithuania’s largest airport at Vilnius is preparing to start a 4-year makeover of its terminal building that will double its capacity.
Vilnius Airport, which in summer 2017 closed for 35 days to allow a major reconstruction of its runway, will start to modernize and expand its terminal building this month.
The terminal, which opened in 2007, has an annual design throughput of 9,500 passengers a day. In peak summer periods, this number can jump to as many as 15,000.
In 2017, the airport exceeded its annual design capacity of 3.5 million by 300,000 passengers. The new work, when completed, will allow the airport to handle 20,000 passengers daily, giving an annual capacity of around 7 million. “After the reconstruction, passengers will be provided with a faster and a more convenient customer service as well as an expanded commercial area,” airport Director Olaf Martens said. “The refurbished terminal will also provide better working conditions for our employees.”
The modernization process will start with the reconstruction of the sterile area, which will be completed by the end of 2018. Reconstruction of the apron and taxiway will be conducted together with the transformation of the airport’s public traffic infrastructure until 2020. Finally, remaking the terminal’s departure area will take place from 2019 to 2021.
Cost of the project is estimated at €60 million/$75 million.
March 2018: "Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) is to Add 6 Airbus Aircraft, and Eyes Germany"
Lithuanian leisure carrier Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) said it would add 6 Airbus aircraft to its fleet in 2018, taking the total up to 28, and expects to become the largest carrier in the Baltic States in terms of passengers, fleet and revenue this year. (LIJ) reported a 2017 profit of +€5.1 million/+$6.3 million, up from a 2016 loss and saw revenues grow +45% year-on-year to €323.1 million. (LIJ) transported 2.7 million passengers, a rise of +35%.
October 2018: "Small Planet Airlines Lithuania to Restructure" by Victoria Moores (email@example.com), October 24, 2018.
Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) announced that its Lithuanian business (Small Planet Airlines (UAB)) has filed for restructuring under Lithuanian law, as a knock-on effect of debts at its German and Polish airlines that both hit financial difficulties this fall.
Small Planet Airlines GmbH (the group’s German airline) launched insolvency proceedings in September, after late aircraft deliveries, crew shortages and technical events collided with its rapid expansion plans.
In October, Small Planet’s Polish (LLP) operation also entered “accelerated arrangement” restructuring proceedings. Accelerated arrangement is an insolvency step under Polish law, aimed at averting bankruptcy.
These 2 restructuring processes have now taken their toll on Lithuanian operation Small Planet Airlines (UAB), which had been expected to deliver a +€3.4 million/+$3.9 million operating profit in 2018. However, the Lithuanian airline took on guarantees and joint liabilities for the German and Polish operations, creating exposure to their debts. “There is a major difference between restructuring in Polish and German companies, and in Lithuania. Small Planet Airlines in Poland and Germany were loss-making companies, whereas Small Planet Airlines Lithuania (LIJ) continued to operate successfully this year,” (LIJ) (CEO) Kristijonas Kaikaris said on October 23.
The Lithuanian restructuring is “a vital step” to protect the company from financial problems in Germany and Poland. “The company needs time to pay off the liabilities it has been exposed to due to restructuring proceeding in Poland and Germany,” the Small Planet Airlines Group said, adding that the restructuring will have no impact on the Lithuanian airline’s operations.
This winter, Small Planet Airlines Lithuania (LIJ) expects to carry 100,000 passengers with a fleet of 8 Airbus A320s.
“For the restructuring to be successful in Germany and Poland, finding a new investor is vital, whereas the Lithuanian company can survive without it. However, we are leaving this option on the table and having talks with potential investors since additional financial injection would allow Small Planet Airlines Lithuania (LIJ) to go through the restructuring easier and faster. We believe restructuring will allow us to soften the potential negative impact for the Lithuanian company and continue its flight operations successfully into the future,” Kaikaris said.
Small Planet Airlines (UAB) posted a +€2.3 million/+$2.8 million pre-tax profit in 2017 and passenger numbers were up +32% this summer. The company expects revenue to reach €122.7 million by the end of 2018, up nearly +20% year-over-year.
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0 737-2Q8 (JT8D) (748-22453, /81), EX-(ABL), RETURNED (GUI), LEASED TO (KAZ).
0 737-2T2 (JT8D-17 HK) (892-22793, /82 LY-BSG "STASYS GIRENAS"), EX-(ALK), (FSB) LEASED, RETURNED, LEASED TO (SRU) 2006-03. 120Y.
0 737-2T4 (JT8D-17) (886-22701, /82 LY-BSD "STEPONAS DARIUS"), EX-(ALK), RETURNED. 120Y.
1 737-3K2 (CFM56-3B2) (1712-24327, /89 LY-FLJ), EX-(LN-KKG) 2012-09. 148Y.
0 737-3L9 (CFM56-3B2) (2347-27061, /92 LY-FLE), VOLITO LEASED 2010-06. RETURNED. 148Y.
0 737-3YO (CFM56-3B2) (1542-23924, /88 LY-AWH), AVIA ASSET MANAGEMENT LEASED 2009-11. RETURNED. 148Y.
1 737-322 (CFM56-3B1) (1877-24664, /90 ES-LBC; 1893-24667, /90 LY-AQU), AVIA ASSET MANAGEMENT LEASED 2009-10. TRANSFERRED TO FLYLAL CHARTERS EESTII; 24664; TO FLYLAL POLSKA AS (SP-HAA). WITH WINGLETS. 148Y.
1 737-35B (CFM56-3C1) (23972, LY-BGC), EX-(LY-SKA), GRAND CRU AIRLINES LEASED 2013-06. 148Y.
1 737-35B (CFM56-3C1) (2053-25069, LY-AQV, 2007-08 - SEE ATTACHED PHOTO - - "LIJ-737-35B-2008-05"), EX-(DAL), EX-(N225DL), ex-(ES-LBD). 148Y.
0 737-36Q (CFM56-3C1) (2923-29055, /97 LY-FLC), (TCI) LEASED 2009-07). RTND. 148Y.
0 737-375 (CFM56-3B1) (1434-23808, /87 LY-AGP "ZEMAITIS"), EX-(ARE), (BBB) LEASED 2002-05. RETURNED. 142Y OR 148Y.
0 737-382 (CFM56-3B2) (1699-24366), EX-(TAP) (857-24449, /90 LY-BAG "ANTANAS GUSTAITAS") (ILF) 5 YEAR LEASED. (24366 RETURNED (PSS), LEASED TO (LAB), 142Y OR 148Y.
0 737-382 (CFM56-3B2) (2226-25161, /92 LY-FLH - - SEE NEW "SMALL PLANET" LIVERY IN - - PHOTO - - "(LIJ)-737-382-NEW LIVERY-2010-09"), (AWAS) (AWW) LEASED 2010-07. RETURNED. 148Y.
0 737-5Q8 (CFM56-3C1) (2834-27629, /96 LY-AZW; 2965-28052, /97 LY-AZX), EX-(ROS), (ILF) LEASED 2005-02. 27629 RETURNED, LEASED TO (FME) 2006-04. 28052; WET-LEASED TO SOGAS (SEE PHOTO) 2006-03. 27629; RETURNED, LEASED TO (BLV) 2009-08. 124Y.
0 737-522 (CFM56-3C1) (2490-26700, /93 LY-AWG; 2512-26707, /93 LY-AWF), AVIATION ASSETS MANAGEMENT LEASED 2009-02. 26707; RETURNED FROM (SKP). 2 RETURNED. 124Y.
2 737-522 (CFM56-3C1) (2388-26684, /92 LY-AWE; 2494-26739, /93 LY-AWD), 26739; BOTH WET-LEASED TO SCAT (VSV) 2008-10 IN SCAT COLORS. 124Y.
2 737-522 (CFM56-3C1) (2490-26700, /93 LY-AWG; 251226707, /93 LY-AWF), BOTH WET-LEASED TO (TJK) 2008-10 IN TAJIK AIR (TJK) COLORS. 124Y.
0 737-524 (CFM56-3C1) (2771-26339, /96 LY-AGQ; 2777-26340, /96 LY-AGZ), EX-(CAL), SCAT COLORS. (ILF) 5 YEAR LEASED 2003-04. 2 RETURNED. 124Y.
0 737-548 (CFM56-3B1) (2427-26287, /93 LY-AZY), (TIA) LEASED 2004-05. RETURNED. LEASED TO (ACU) 2011. 124Y.
0 737-59D (2186-26419), RETURNED (SAS), LEASED TO (BAB) 2000-06. 124Y.
1 757-204ET (RB211-535E4) (602-27237, /94 LY-FLG - - SEE ATTACHED PHOTO - - "LIJ-757-200-2008-05"), AVIA ASSET MANAGEMENT LEASED 2008-10. WET-LEASED TO SCAT (VSV) IN SCAT COLORS. 235Y.
0 757-29J (PW2037) (588-27203, /93 LY-FLA), AIR CASTLE (CSL) LEASED 2008-10. IN ALL WHITE COLOR. RETURNED. WINGLETS. 235Y.
1 MD-83 (JT8D-219) (1580-49627, /99 SX-BTM), EX-(TF-JXC), AEOLIAN AIRLINES WET-LEASED 2013-06 TO SMALL PLANET AIRLINES ITALIA. 170Y.
1 A320-200 (SP-HAC), 2012-03 FOR SMALL PLANET AIRLINES POLAND OPERATIONS. 180Y.
1 A320-211 (0662, UR-DAK), EX-(F-WTAU), AVIATRANS K (KCA) LEASED 2013-06. 180Y.
1 A320-214 (0967, LY-SPF), EX-(EI-FKG), AIRCASTLE (CSL) LEASED 2015-07. 180Y.
1 A320-214 (1041, LV-SPG), EX-(EI-FKH), AIRCASTLE (CSL) LEASED 2015-11.
1 A320-214 (4203, LY-ONJ), EX-(EI-ONJ), AFRIQIYAH AIRWAYS (AQY) LEASED 2015-05.
1 A320-231 (0415, LY-SPC), EX-(EI-ETM), TRITON (TIA) LEASED 2013-07.
1 A320-232 (0990, LY-SPD), EX-(VN-A195), AIRCASTLE (CSL) LEASED 2014-07.
1 A320-232 (2987, LY-SPB), EX-(P4-UAS) LEASED TO DRUKAIR 2013-10.
5 A320-200, (CSL) & (TCI) LEASED.
3 A321, DELIVERED TO POLAND'S SMALL PLANET AIRLINES, 220 PAX.
1 L-1329 JETSTAR 731 (TFE731-3-1E) (15-5161, /67 LY-AMB), (VIP).
0 SAAB 340B (CT7-9B) (248, /91 LY-SBA; 255, /91 LY-SBB). RETURNED 2001-01. 33Y.
0 SAAB 2000 (023, /95 LY-SBD "DZUKAS;" 025, /95 LY-SBC SUVALKIETIS;"; 032, /96 LY-SBG "AUKSTAITIES" 2002-04), SAAB LSD 2002-04, 032; RETURNED. 50Y.
0 SAAB 2000 (007, /94 LY-SBQ; 035, /96 LY-SBK), SAAB AIRCRAFT LEASED 2005-09. 50Y.
0 YAK-42 (D-36) (4520424606267, /86 LY-AAO; 4520422709295, /87 LY-AAQ; 4520422709304, /87 LY-AAR; 452042274711396, /87 LY-AAT), RETURNED. 120Y.
0 YAK-42D (4520424811431, LY-AAX; TO (VNU) 2000-09), (4520424711396, RA-42353, RTND 2000-09) (3811417, /88 LY-AAW), RETURNED. 108Y.
1 ATR42-300, AIR LITHUANIA WET-LEASED 2004-05.
1 ATR72, 2002-11.
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VIDAS ZVINYS, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR GENERAL.
VYTAUTAS KAIKARIS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO) (CONTROLS 70% STAKE IN AIRLINE'S LITHUANIAN & POLISH SUBSIDIARIES).
ch-aviation interview: Vytautas Kaikaris, (CEO) Small Planet Airlines (LIJ), October 17, 2015 by Niels Trubbach.
Announcing record 1st half year profits of +EUR 4 million at a press conference, Small Planet Airlines (LIJ) announced plans to invest its higher profits in increasing passenger comfort on its fleet of A320-200 aircraft, its largest investment into fleet renewal in the carrier’s history. (LIJ) has ordered 3,000 new seats from Recaro and will equip its fleet with (LED) lighting, Economy Premium (PY) seats with more leg room and AirFi streaming in-flight entertainment (IFE) to customer’s devices. With its German subsidiary launching operations in spring 2016, Small Planet (LIJ) plans to operate 20 A320-200 aircraft next summer season across its 3 airlines in Lithuania, Poland and Germany. (LIJ) is also in the process of obtaining an air operator certificate (AOC) in Thailand.
ch-aviation’s Thomas Jaeger had a chance to sit down with Vytautas Kaikaris, the (CEO) of Small Planet Airlines (LIJ), on the terrace of (LIJ)’s new headquarters in the city center of Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius.
TJ: So you’re obviously growing very fast. What are the key drivers behind your growth in the European market and what have been the biggest challenges for you personally and for the company?
VK: Our biggest growth has been in Poland, which is where we have grown the most. This year, we operated eight aircraft plus a standby unit in Poland and that constitutes about 60% of our total revenue. So why are we growing so fast in Poland? Well I think it’s a combination of a few things. First, it’s still very much a developing market with natural demand, which we have satisfied. We also came at the right time, when a lot of weaker competitors were going out of business, and there were a number of bankruptcies. As such, I think tour operators were very much in the hunt for reliable partners capable of providing good quality service for the long term, and not just a one-off as has happened in a number of cases. So I think we have established good relationships with tour operators, whose growth requirements we were able to satisfy. In other markets such as Western Europe, I think our unique selling point against our competitors there, is our lower cost structure. Obviously it helps coming from countries like Poland and Lithuania, where labor costs are not as high as they are in Western Europe. Overall, this helps us to offer a very low unit cost wherein our (CASK) is one of the lowest in the industry. The way we are able to achieve that is because our utilization is quite high, and it is getting higher because of the Asian ventures we have in the pipeline. Instead of keeping our aircraft parked, we are utilizing them and obviously that helps drive our total unit costs down. This allows us then to offer more competitive pricing and gives tour operators the incentive to choose us over the rest. In fact, if you look at the European charter market, operators from Eastern Europe have been gaining a significant amount of market share. When you combine us, Travel Service and Enter Air’s market share you’ll see we are now among the main charter operators in Europe.
TJ: So for you right now, tour operators are your key source of revenue. But you also do wet-lease (ACMI) charter operations in winter. From a revenue perspective, how dependent are you on (ACMI) revenue, and how does it contrast to other Baltic operators such as Avion Express and SmartLynx, where it’s the exact opposite of what you’re doing?
VK: We have chosen to pursue a different strategy, wherein we are predominantly a full-charter business. This means we have our own call signs and our own customer experience. In summer, 100% of our operations are on a full-charter basis (we do zero (ACMI)). But (ACMI) operations, though a small part of our business, are still important to us, because they mainly occur during winter (the low season). Last year, I think our Asian (ACMI) operations made up about 4% of our total revenue. So obviously, there is still a lot of room to grow.
TJ: You mentioned Asia before. Again comparing you to Avion Express, which is another Lithuanian operator, why did you chose Asia over the Caribbean like they have done?
VK: We just divided the globe (laughs). No but seriously, I suppose Avion had some connections in the Caribbean and it worked out for them there. We on the other hand, established good relationships with partners in Asia, and so for us, we see our future down there. So to answer your question, they looked West, we looked East.
TJ: Obviously as you grow your fleet, the winter problem becomes more pronounced. At present, you have a deal with Cambodia’s Sky Angkor for several winter seasons, which protects you from competition there. But you have been struggling In Thailand as a result of external factors. When do you hope to be up and running, and what is your take on the situation in Thailand given the (ICAO)’s recent imposition of a Serious Safety Concern against the country?
VK: We knew that setting up in Thailand would be a long process but we didn’t expect it to take this long! As you say, there have been these external factors, which have dramatically impacted the situation and prolonged it. As such, in November we expect to get an update on the way forward with the (ICAO) matter and we hope that everything will be resolved. We hope then that the Thai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) will begin issuing licenses again. But even if things get going, it’s difficult to tell how long the whole process will take. Usually it takes 6 months to a year, but in this case, we simply do not know. In the interim, we are also looking at partnering some existing operators, as that would be a ‘shortcut’ into the market minus the red tape. However, we also have to be careful whom we partner, and under what conditions, given that a lot of Thai operators are in a lot of trouble.
TJ: In Poland, you’re competing with other Eastern European charter operators such as Travel Service and Enter Air. Have you considered other markets in the region, or is your main focus to expand into Western Europe, where there is less direct competition?
VK: That is exactly right. We are already in a strong position in the Lithuanian and Polish markets, and we intend to consolidate, if not expand that position, especially in Poland. But with our entry into the German market next year, we will then be present in three of Europe’s Big Four markets (the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy. While we did have a contract in France, that was two years ago, and we will consider returning there in the future. But basically, we are busy addressing market needs in areas we already operate in, as well as those we intend to enter (Germany, in this instance). As for the Central European market like the Czech Republic or Hungary, while we have looked into them, we feel they already have strong players there, such as Travel Service, which is a very well established brand. As such, we see no reason to compete with them in their home markets in the same way, as we see no reason for them to enter ours. In all, our target market is Western Europe, where we intend to compete with existing operators there.
TJ: Your next market entry is Germany. Why there, and are you not afraid of being used by (TUI) and Thomas Cook to undercut others?
VK: We were in a similar situation with leading tour operators in Poland, but look what we have achieved. So we know what to expect, and we don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to repeat the same success in the German market, which is vastly bigger. Yes, it is dominated by a few strong tour operators there, but with our competitive cost structure, the size of the market, our very competent management team, and our partners, we see a real opportunity there.
TJ: Travel Service recently took on Chinese investment. Are you looking for similar opportunities to provide you with added financing, thus allowing you to more rapidly expand?
VK: Obviously we’re looking at all available options. We have looked at going public (IPO), but have yet to decide on anything. Alternatively, there is the possibility of taking on-board a private equity investor. But, in all, we have raised sufficient capital from our operations to finance our current growth requirements. Of course, if we decided to venture into the scheduled services market or to acquire aircraft and perhaps even other airlines, we would then definitely require either an (IPO) or private equity funding. But no, no firm plans have yet been made.
TJ: Thank you very much!
ARUNAS GRISKENAS, GENERAL MANAGER.
HALLDOR SIGURDARSON, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER (CFO) (2013-05).
SAULIUS STASIUNAS, DIRECTOR FINANCE.
ANDRIUS STANIULIS, CHIEF QUALITY OFFICER (CQO) (CONTROLS 30% OF AIRLINE'S LITHUANIAN & POLISH SUBSIDIARIES).
SIMONAS BARTKUS, HEAD MARKETING DEPARTMENT:
MARK WENTZEL, VP SALES BENELUX REGION.
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ANTANAS ZILINSKAS, HEAD FLEET DEVELOPMENT (2001-06).
SAULIUS LUKSYS, DEPUTY TECHNICAL DIRECTOR MAINTENANCE.
MIROSLAV BINGEL, HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.
ANDREJ BELOTELOV, MANAGER ENGINEERING & MAINTENANCE.
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VICTOR KADOCHKIN, SENIOR MANAGER LINE MAINTENANCE (1999-01).
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