Growing ACMI demand drives Latvia’s SmartLynx improved turnover

SmartLynx ACMI services represent 56 per cent of SmartLynx’s business

Rapidly growing demand in the European aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) market helped SmartLynx Airlines, the Riga, Latvia-based A320 wet lease services specialist and charter provider, to enjoy a net turnover increase of 21 per cent to €131.5 million in 2017, the company’s consolidated audit shows.

ACMI services now represent 56 per cent of the company’s total business portfolio, with charter flights representing another 42 per cent.

SmartLynx, which is now a noted ACMI A320 specialist, claims to be second largest passenger air carrier in Estonia and also the third largest passenger carrier in Latvia.

Net turnover for aircraft wet lease services accounted for €73.2 million in 2017, 26.9 per cent up on 2016, while charter flight turnover amounted to €55.6 million, or 12.6 per cent more. Other segments of the portfolio – €2.8 million, or 2.09 per cent – consisted of passenger-related services and SmartLynx’s pilot training centre facility.

Zygimantas Surintas, SmartLynx Airlines’ chief executive, explains that these positive financial indicators are rooted in the increased number of aircraft in airlines’ fleets – and in more efficient aircraft utilisation. On average, SmartLynx aircraft flew 26 per cent more hours in 2017 compared to 2016, due to rapidly growing demand from the ACMI market last year.

“In 2017, we made 15,933 flights from 25 base airports in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, which represents 46,157 block hours,” Surintas reveals. “Over the last few years, the number of passengers travelling with SmartLynx has constantly increased – in 2017 it reached 2.5 million, which is 31.6 per cent more than in 2016.”

SmartLynx’s strategic plan is to become ”the first choice partner for medium-range ACMI and charter flights within Europe”. To do this, the company plans to expand its fleet and its area of operations and is working intensively to develop new business in North America and Canada. SmartLynx’s aim is to offer flights from Canada to Latin America and the Caribbean islands.

Thanks to its work outside of Latvia, SmartLynx became one of Latvia’s top-10 service exporters in 2016, according to the Bank of Latvia.

Headquartered in Riga, SmarLynx Airlines is primarily a charter and ACMI operator of Airbus A320 aircraft and has been in operation since 1992 as Latcharter. In 2016 a Netherlands-based investment fund became the new owner of the company.

The airline also offers its own scheduled passenger services using two A320 aircraft, and holds Latvian and Estonian Air Operator Certificates. Including the scheduled passenger services, SmartLynx operates a fleet of 13 Airbus A320-200s.

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