The Lithuanian leisure carrier reports a dramatic financial turnaround and starts to grow its fleet.
The Lithuanian leisure and charter carrier Small Planet Airlines, which rose from the ashes of former flag carrier Lithuanian Airlines, says it aims to become the Baltic region’s biggest airline this year.
It announced financial results for 2017, reporting a profit of €5.1 million and full recovery from a loss incurred in 2016.
Revenues for the year increased to €323.1 million, up 45% from the previous year, as it transported 2.7 million passengers, 35% more than in 2016.
Small Planet Airlines’ reported EBITDA topped €9.6 million, a significant turnaround from the loss of €0.5 million in 2016.
“We dedicated last year to stabilising our operations and learning from mistakes we have made, adding just one aircraft to the fleet,” commented CEO Kristijonas Kaikaris.
“I am glad that this year we can go for full-speed growth again! Six additional aircraft will join us in 2018, increasing our fleet to 28 Airbus aircraft. Passenger numbers are set to increase accordingly – we hope to carry nearly 4 million holidaymakers in 2018. Revenue should increase by one-third.”
This, according to the airline’s estimates, it should makes it the biggest carrier in the Baltic states by passenger flow, revenue and fleet size in 2018.
But although its closest rival, Latvia’s scheduled flag carrier airBaltic, carried around 3.5 million passengers in 2017, it maintains a fleet size of 30 aircraft – bigger than Small Planet aims to be by the end of this year.
This year Germany is to become the fastest growing market for Small Planet with 10 aircraft to be based in various German airports.
“For years, Poland was the largest market for Small Planet Airlines operations. However, this year we do not plan any significant growth there – the situation is stable and good, and one additional aircraft will join the Polish fleet,” Kaikaris says.
“In Germany on the other hand, growth exceeds 200% and is influenced by various factors. Firstly, Germany is Europe’s largest aviation market, so the demand is naturally high there. The insolvency of Air Berlin opened an additional niche. Secondly, the diversification of markets was always among our goals; it is not business-wise to keep your eggs in one basket.”
In Asia, Small Planet operates a fleet of two Airbus aircraft but says the number will grow to “six or even eight aircraft” by the end of 2018. Based in Cambodia, it focuses on outbound Chinese tourism, currently operating flights between Palau and Hong Kong as well as Macau and Cambodia, Vietnam and Bali.