European carrier Small Planet Airlines has signed a long-term deal to support Asian carrier Sky Angkor to grow its network from Siem Reap in Cambodia to a growing network of destinations in China and South Korea. The partnership will enable the two carriers to overcome significant seasonality variations in each of their markets with aircraft flying in Europe during the summer and Asia during the winter schedules.
Under the terms of the deal, which will run for an “at least five year” period, Small Planet will initially base four Airbus 320s in Cambodia between November 2015 and March 2016 to fly tourists into Siem Reap from China and South Korea. Last winter the Eastern European ACMI provider had placed two of its aircraft with Sky Angkor in a pre-cursor to this long-term partnership.
It is not unusual for leisure airlines to move aircraft from one part of the world to another to overcome seasonal demand variations although previously these arrangements were often between operators on either side of the Atlantic. With Asia’s air service market growing, increasing opportunities are now available across this region.
Small Planet currently has activities in Great Britain, Poland, Lithuania, Italy and Germany operating a fleet of 18 aircraft with independent tour operators as well as some of the biggest global holiday brands to fly passengers to Greece, Spain, Turkey, Bulgaria and other countries during the summer season.
After the summer season ends, the extent of activities in Europe shrinks – with the numbers of passengers travelling to popular resort countries decreasing by up to tenfold. The arrangement with Sky Ankgor is part of a clear strategy how to lower the negative impact of seasonality on the business, confirmed Vytautas Kaikaris, chief executive officer of the airline.
“We are working on finding business opportunities where the holiday season reaches its peak during the winter. Based on the agreement with Asian airline Sky Angkor, we will fly tourists from China and South Korea to Cambodia,” he said.
The Siem Reap region of Cambodia is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, where tourists are attracted by the unique temples of the ancient city of Angkor. As a part of UNESCO's World Heritage List; this historical sanctuary is the biggest religious building complex in the world. The number of tourists that visit this area has increased four-fold in the last ten years: over two million tourists visited last year.
The contract with Sky Angkor is understood to be the largest contract in the history of Small Planet in terms of the utilisation of our aircraft outside Europe and follows previous winter lease deals with the carrier and Skywings Asia Airlines in winter 2014 and with Bhutan Airlines between Bangkok, Thailand and Paro, Bhutan the previous year.