In a significant event for Timor-Leste, Aero Dili (8G, Dili) has ferried in the first ever commercial jet aircraft to be based in the country. The A320-200 will initially begin scheduled services between Dili's President Nicolau Lobato International Airport and Denpasar before venturing into other markets.

As previously reported by ch-aviation, Aero Dili has secured 4W-AAL (msn 3672) on a two-year lease from DAE Capital. The 14.42-year-old aircraft formerly flew for Bangkok Airways as HS-PPO and went into maintenance at Kuala Lumpur International in the fourth quarter of 2022 before ferrying to Bangkok Don Mueang and onto Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta earlier this month.

On March 20, bearing Aero Dili livery, the A320 flew into Dili. This followed Aero Dili securing its certificate of registration (COR) and certificate of airworthiness (COA) from the Civil Aviation Authority of Timor-Leste (AACTL) in mid-March. While undergoing maintenance, 4W-AAL was reconfigured to seat just 165 passengers.

"Aero Dili has successfully obtained its own Airbus A320 aircraft," President Director Lourenco de Oliveira said this week. "I'd like to take this moment to say that the efforts are not mine alone. It has involved many people with the same dream as mine - developing Timor-Leste's airline industry."

José Ramos-Horta, the Nobel Peace prize winner and current president of Timor-Leste, has said that de Oliveira is a respected local businessman with a background in maritime and air transport. Aero Dili was founded in 2018 but to date has only operated scheduled services around Timor-Leste using Cessna (single piston) aircraft. Last year, using a Cessna172 SkyHawk, de Oliveira operated a trial flight between Dili and Kupang, the first ever international flight by a Timor-Leste registered aircraft. De Oliveira called that flight a "technical requirement" needed to secure permission to operate its own A320 flights.

However, Aero Dili, acting as a virtual carrier, has an established track record of wet-leasing jet aircraft from operators such as Indonesia AirAsia (QZ, Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta) and Sriwijaya Air (SJ, Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta) to provide Dili with improved air connectivity. According to the ch-aviation PRO airports module, in addition to these wet-leased flights, Qantas and Airnorth (Australia) operate scheduled flights into Dili from Darwin, while Citilink and Batik Air fly in from Denpasar, and Drukair operates regular charter flights from Singapore Changi on behalf of local virtual airline/travel agent Air Timor (Dili).

"I am very happy. It is a source of pride and a dream that has come true," de Oliveira declared. "Now we are going to start on the 28th [of March] with regular routes, to Indonesia every day but also to Singapore. We are negotiating with Australia to be able to operate flights to that country as well. The moment has come for Timor-Leste to have its [own] aircraft and stop depending on foreign nations."