RIGA - The aviation market is not yet back on the pre-pandemic level but demand for aviation services is growing, Zygimantas Surintas, CEO of Latvia-registered company SmartLynx Airlines (SmartLynx), told LETA.
Surintas said that the aviation market has seen strong turbulences in recent years. In 2020, this business nearly ceased to exist. SmartLynx, too, reduced its fleet from 22 to 12 aircraft, but already at the end of 2020 the company's fleet had grown to 35 aircraft, as it was decided that the crisis is also a time of opportunities for resumed growth.
Since 40 percent of our costs are related to airplanes, we secured favorable terms of aircraft use in the long term, because the aircraft leasing market was also affected by the pandemic, said Surintas.
The SmartLynx CEO indicated that the time of pandemic posed a lot of other challenges as well, and two years after the start of the pandemic the aviation market was still not functioning as it used to before the pandemic.
Very many companies are faced with staff shortages, from mechanics to pilots, to administration staff. We too are facing the same problems," the SmartLynx CEO said, adding that during the pandemic, the company's office staff was reduced by around 70 percent, but that now the number of office workers already exceeds the pre-pandemic level.
According to Surintas, SmartLynx managed to close 2021 with a small profit.
We have substantially changed our business profile, and today we are no longer just a passenger carrier, but a company carrying both passengers and air cargo. Besides, we are one of the fastest growing cargo carriers in the world, Surintas said.
In his words, although the aviation market has yet to return to the pre-pandemic level, demand for aviation services is on the rise, but the recovery will take time.