Lithuania-registered air carriers will be able to operate into US

  • 2024-04-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Air carriers or aircraft registered in Lithuania will be able to operate into the United States and within its territory, Lithuanian Transport and Communication Minister Marius Skuodis said on Monday.

Lithuanian airlines operate flights in the US already, but they register their aircraft in other countries, which is why, according to the minister, the authorities want to encourage them to register in Lithuania and pay taxes here.

“Our main message today is that from today onwards the market of the United States of America is open to all Lithuania-registered aircraft and all Lithuania-registered airlines," the minister told a press conference at Vilnius airport.

"All Lithuanian companies that operate in the US airspace, or that wish to do so, will be able to do so from Lithuania, without having to register their aircraft in other countries," he added.

As stated by the Transport and Communication Ministry in a press release, Lithuania has achieved the top ranking (Category 1) from the Federal Aviation Administration following its first International Aviation Safety Assessment, which opens the door for Lithuanian airlines to conduct commercial flights into the United States with aircraft registered in Lithuania.

According to Skuodis, there are large carriers in Lithuania that are particularly interested in this development and at least nine companies could take advantage of this opportunity.

“We have nine companies registered in Lithuania, which have a fairly large fleet of aircraft... I know of at least three companies that are already operating or would like to operate in the US, it’s just that these activities are not carried out through Lithuanian companies, but through subsidiaries, and this is very important," the minister told BNS.

According to Aleksandras Nemunaitis, head of the Lithuanian National Aviation Association (LAVIA), Lithuanian carriers are operating flights in the US already, but register their planes in other countries. In his view, access to the US market will be particularly relevant for Heston Airlines and Avion Express.

“The ones that might be most concerned are Heston Airlines, Avion Express, which is currently the largest charter provider with 55 aircraft. Although you may not see this airline, they have 55 registered planes, some of which are registered in Lithuania, and some in Malta," Nemunaitis told the press conference.

According to him, when planes are registered in other countries, the companies pay taxes to those countries and not to Lithuania.

“We are talking about tens of millions [of euros]," he pointed out.

US Ambassador to Lithuania Kara C. McDonald said that only the companies rated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were allowed to operate flights in the US, and Lithuania was assigned Category 1.

“A Category 1 rating is what is required to be able to enter the United States and operate passenger or cargo flights in the country," she told the press conference.

The ambassador stated that the rating would allow Lithuania and the US to increase cooperation: "As of today, we are expecting to see tremendous growth.”