As airlines across Europe struggle to balance intense passenger traffic with the dilemma of staff shortages, amongst other things, ACMI operator SmartLynx Airlines is stepping in to give some airlines a hand. This does mean that if you do find yourself on board a leased plane from an ACMI provider, the aircraft could be sporting an all-white livery.
Why is that?
Back to basics
An ACMI leasing is an agreement between two airlines whereby the lessor agrees to provide an aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance (ACMI) to the lessee – all in return for payment on the number of block hours operated. It is also known as wet or damp leasing.
An ACMI provider exclusively leases out aircraft to airlines using that particular agreement structure.
ACMI leasing is particularly engineered to provide a solution for airlines who are struggling with operational disruption – whatever the reason may be.
This is where SmartLynx Airlines comes in.
The Latvian ACMI carrier is providing services to various European airlines that are unable to keep up with the intense demand for air travel this summer. To help them manage predicaments like frequent cancellations and delays of flights, ACMI operators are key and often the go-to to provide a short-to-medium-term solution.
As you can imagine, they’ve been pretty busy this year. Along with their long-term clients such as easyJet and Jet.2com, new customers including the likes of Qatar Airways, Air Peace and Royal Air Maroc have been keeping the carrier in plentiful business indeed.
SmartLynx Airlines CEO Žygimantas Surintas commented on the state of the air travel landscape at the minute:
“The aviation market has experienced great fluctuations in the past three years – from the best year in history in terms of passenger turnover to 2020 when this business almost ceased to exist. Currently, airlines around the world are seeing a huge increase in passenger numbers, struggling to meet the demand. Due to disruptions in supply chains, spare parts for aircraft repairs arrive late, there are labour shortages at both airlines and airports, and fuel prices have increased significantly.”
It is important to remember that an ACMI provider that focuses on wet-leasing exclusively like SmartLynx can also provide a crew and a team to undergo maintenance duties for the lessee. In light of the staffing issues that have been plaguing the industry this year, this aspect will be particularly welcome.
Currently, ACMI services account for approximately 75% of SmartLynx’s operations.
CEO Surintas provided further detail:
“Buying new aircraft means enormous investment, and for the purchase to be profitable, the plane needs to be up in the air all year round, carrying cargo or passengers. That is why airlines do not purchase additional aircraft for crisis situations, but rather lease aircraft from other airlines when necessary.”
SmartLynx Airlines is one of the largest ACMI operators in Europe with a market share of around 30% and a higher market share at an impressive 69% in the UK thanks to the post-Brexit staffing issues the country has acquired since.
Business is booming
In response to the growing demand for its service, SmartLynx has expanded its fleet. Currently, the carrier has a total fleet of 44 active aircraft that is almost exclusively Airbus.
Recently, the addition of the Boeing 737 Max to its fleet will increase the carrier’s total fleet to 60 by the end of the summer.
CEO Surintas commented on the airline’s fleet fluctuation:
“We also had to downsize our fleet at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the aviation business practically came to a halt, but already at the end of 2020, we saw the crisis as an opportunity to increase our fleet with the help of more favorable conditions for the use of the aircraft. We can see that our business strategy has paid off and we can help other European airlines provide passenger transport services in these difficult circumstances – we are able to adapt to the changing economic and geopolitical conditions, to quickly respond to business needs.”
So, what is with the all-white livery?
SmartLynx Airlines’ all-livery also allows the carrier to enter service with new airlines on short notice. So, if you’re lining up to climb on board an all-white livery aircraft, your airline has almost certainly leased from SmartLynx.
Have you flown on an all-white aircraft recently? Share all your thoughts and stories in the comments below!