Small Planet Airlines (S5, Vilnius) has announced its nascent Southeast Asian subsidiary Small Planet Airlines Cambodia (RD, Phnom Penh) has been granted its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) by the Cambodia's Secretariat of State Civil Aviation (SSCA).

The Lithuanian ACMI/charter specialist said in a statement that SPAC is majority-owned by Cambodian firm Aviation Invest Cambodia with 51% of the shares, followed by Small Planet Group with 29% with the remaining 20% in the hands of the company's board. Now operational, SPAC will allow the Lithuanian operator to offload surplus capacity during the slower winter months when demand in the European market plummets.

"Due to a challenging seasonality in Europe, since 2012 we have been moving part of our fleet to Asia in winter," Small Planet Airlines CEO Kristijonas Kaikaris said. "Last year we implemented highly successful projects in India, Saudi Arabia, and Cambodia, and managed to fly more block hours in Asia than we did in Europe. Co-owning the Cambodian AOC is yet another important milestone in our efforts to maximize aircraft utilization and expand presence in Asia."

This coming winter season, Small Planet Group will deploy five aircraft to SPAC which will be proferred to the Chinese, Korean, and Hong Kong leisure charter markets.

To that end, Small Planet Airlines Cambodia CEO Erikas Zubrus said the process of securing foreign carrier permits and designations in countries such as Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and various Pacific islands, has now begun.

"As for now, we have one aircraft registered in Cambodia, and it has completed its first test-flight successfully," he said. ch-aviation research shows SMAC's first aircraft is A320-200 XU-801 (msn 883), formerly LY-SPH with its Lithuanian parent.

"We plan to expand our Cambodian fleet to three aircraft this winter and six aircraft in the upcoming two years," Zubrus added.

Small Planet Group now consists of four operational AOCs - Small Planet Airlines (Lithuania), Small Planet Airlines Germany, Small Planet Airlines Polska, and Small Planet Airlines Cambodia. Plans to establish Small Planet Airlines Thailand have been put on hold.