SmartLynx Airlines Malta (LYX, Malta Int'l) has signed a lease contract with Vallair to add two newly converted A321-200F to its fleet of passenger aircraft, it revealed in a statement on October 15.

The subsidiary of leisure charter and ACMI specialist SmartLynx Airlines (6Y, Riga) said it would be the first operator to have A321-200Fs converted by both 321 Precision Conversions - a joint venture between Air Transport Services Group and Precision Aircraft Solutions - and Elbe Flugzeugwerke, an ST Engineering joint venture with Airbus.

“Despite minor differences in direct operational costs, the company decided to go with both STCs [supplemental type certificates] to be able to offer its customers flexibility to compare and choose according to their requirements,” the statement said.

One of the two aircraft is N322WS (msn 891), a 22.1-year-old aircraft formerly operated by Air Méditerranée (ML, Lourdes/Tarbes) and currently undergoing conversion at Orlando Sanford, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module.

The other is N417PB (msn 1017), a 21.5-year-old twinjet formerly operated by R Airlines (RCT, Bangkok Don Mueang) and currently stored in Montpellier.

They will add to SmartLynx Airlines Malta's existing fleet of two A320-200s, 9H-SLA (msn 973) and 9H-SLB (msn 1945), both of which are currently stored at St. Athan airfield in the UK, ch-aviation analysis of Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows.

The airline is in discussions for further aircraft, it said, and plans to reach ten A321 units by 2023.

“Entering the freighter market was part of our expansion strategy placed in 2019. We plan to add eight more aircraft in the next three years, reaching ten Airbus units by 2023,” said CEO Zygimantas Surintas. “In parallel, we are growing our exposure in the charter business, so after the passenger market recovery, we will have one of the most competitive passenger/cargo platforms on the continent.”

In a separate statement, also on October 15, Vallair confirmed it had signed a deal with SmartLynx to lease two newly converted A321 freighters to the Maltese operator.

The launching lessor of the A321F is based in Luxembourg and has facilities in Châteauroux as well as Montpellier. It commented that “the aircraft will be operated by SmartLynx on behalf of an international freight forwarder and will be based at Malta Int'l. The location is ideal for inter-European distribution and will help to also alleviate the pressure on congested cargo hubs.”