MIAMI – The Lithuanian government is looking forward to establishing a national flag carrier post-COVID-19 without relying on external operators.
The project is big and it has to take off as early as this year or at the beginning of 2021.
According to the Department of Transport, having a new national airline will enable the government to adapt more flexibly to the new demands for more Lithuanian air connectivity. This minimizes dependence on foreign air carriers.
The ministry says the project will “most certainly” involve a private-sector partnership. “We are still in the early stage of defining which possible solution could be optimal for Lithuania. All options are still on the table.”
Many airlines have stopped expansion plans to save costs due to a foreseeable reduction in travel demand over the coming years as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
This situation might cause Lithuania to be cut out from many EU airlines’ network schemes.
Many Attempts, Many Fails
Attempts to establish a national flag carrier in Lithuania have occurred more often than not since Lithuania left the USSR.
The first attempt was Lithuanian Airlines (TT) aka. FlyLAL, operated from 1991 up to 2009.
With 13 aircraft in the fleet and around 10 destinations, it served Lithuania for 18 years until its bankruptcy.
Another attempt was in 2015, with Air Lituanica (LT) with Embraer E-Jets. The airline operated across Europe, but in less than 2 years halted operations.
A third example was the Lithuanian leisure carrier Small Planet Airlines (S5), based in VNO.
Small Planet was operating eight Airbus A320s before Lithuania’s civil aviation authority revoked its license in November 2018 for its financial disruption.
Air Baltic Opens a New Base
From 2018, Latvian carrier Air Baltic (BT) decided to boost the Lithuanian connection setting up a base in Vilnius Oro Uostas (VNO).
From VNO, BT operates 10 routes across Europe with its brand new Airbus 220 (Former CS300).
More routes are expected in the post-COVID-19 future.
Wet-Lease Carriers Dominates the Lithuanian Market
Among the not so glorious past of traditional airlines, Wet Leasing is one of the most profitable business in aviation.
With 3 ACMI carriers operating with Lithuanian’s COA, the Baltic State sets itself as one of the reference points for this sector.
With Get Jet (GW), Avion Express (X9), and Klassjet, Lithuania offers a wide offer for airlines looking for ACMI contracts.
Among the aforementioned airlines, X9 is one of the biggest ACMI operators in the EU with 22 Airbus in its fleet.