Small Planet Airlines plane detained in Lithuanian airport
A Small Planet Airlines plane is detained in Vilnius International airport (VNO) because of debts reaching over 700K euros. Despite operating profit, the Lithuanian airline is experiencing financial difficulties at home after its two sister companies in Poland and Germany flew into trouble.
The Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) of Lithuania granted a request by Lithuanian Airports to detain Small Planet Airlines’ plane due to the debt. The initial request asked for multiple “planes”, but the authority granted the permission for only one aircraft, which is not currently in use. Thus, the airline’s schedule and passengers should not be affected.
AeroTime has reached out to Small Planet Airlines and have not received a comment at the time of publication. Previously, the company’s representative told local media that despite bearing no effect to scheduled flights, the company still believes withholding an aircraft was unnecessary and hopes the measure to be revoked.
Currently, the airline and the airport are in negotiations over debts. Despite Small Planet’s hopes to reach an agreement on Thursday, November 22, 2018, talks seem to be not moving according to the plan. “The negotiations are ongoing,” Marius Zelenius, Lithuanian Airports spokesperson confirmed to AeroTime on November 22, adding, “no agreement has been reached yet”.
Profitable but in trouble
Small Planet Airlines Lithuania has previously announced that it expects to report an operating profit of €3.4 million in 2018. However, it is not enough to cover the cost of debts accumulated by its sister companies.
Small Planet Airlines Poland and Germany entered restructuring respectively on October 8 and September 18, 2018, leaving the Lithuanian company to write-off their unpaid services and pay off liabilities as their guarantor.
On October 24, 2018, the Lithuanian company announced that it is also entering restructuring under Lithuanian law, to protect its activities from financial difficulties. The court has accepted, but not yet granted the request.
In October 2018, the Lithuanian carrier announced plans to fire 87 employees. Currently, there are 271 people working for the airline, versus approximately 360 in September 2018.