VILNIUS - Small Planet Airlines will take delivery of three A320 aircraft this year, with one already having been delivered while the remaining two are expected in the spring, reports ELTA. A record of 11 aircraft will be utilized by the airline this summer - 9 A320s and 2 737-300s - across its bases in the UK, Poland, Lithuania and France, the official Web site of Small Planet Airlines said.
A better economy in Europe is fuelling passenger numbers planning their holidays abroad and this, in turn, increases demand for charter flights by tour operators. Small Planet Airlines is well positioned to capture this additional demand due to its competitive cost structure and ability to add more aircraft when other charter airlines are struggling to source capacity, the airline says.
In Lithuania, which is the company’s home market, the airline will operate two A320s for the first time. In 2012, the airline operated two 737-300s in Lithuania; in 2013, the capacity grew to one A320 and one 737-300; in 2014, two A320s will be operated from Vilnius.
In Poland, the fastest growing charter market in Europe, the airline will operate four A320s. This is one aircraft more than last year when its presence in Poland was with three A320s. Small Planet Airlines proceeds to grow cautiously in the Polish market which is very price competitive and plagued by ailing airlines and fragmented tour operators.
In the UK, the airline will continue the same operation like last year, where Manchester was served with a single 737-300 and Gatwick with one A320.
The French operation is still not finalized and is likely to be reduced to a single A320, out of Paris.
The additional A320 was leased from CIT Aerospace. The remaining two A320s are scheduled to arrive in March and May - these aircraft have been signed with Aircastle and CIT Aerospace.
“This year for the first time we will keep one A320s as a backup unit. It will enable us to respond much quicker to unexpected flight irregularities and reduce the risk of long delays for our passengers,” said Vytautas Kaikaris, the airline’s CEO. “We have grown to a size where it makes sense to keep a back-up unit, which is a strong competitive advantage over other smaller charter carriers who are still too small to have a stand-by.”
Small Planet Airlines is an independent European leisure carrier with air operator certificates in Lithuania and Poland. During the European holiday season from May to October, Small Planet Airlines serves the leading tour operators in Europe and brings their passengers to Greece, Spain, Turkey, Egypt, and other popular holiday destinations. During the winter season, Small Planet Airlines leases some of its capacity outside Europe. The company also performs flights for military, government, corporations and private individuals on an ad-hoc basis.