Latvia-based ACMI and charter specialist SmartLynx Airlines plans to increase both its fleet and area of operations in 2018, as it reported turnover was up by more than 20% in 2017.

The airline plans to develop its business in North America, notably by offering flights from Canada to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Several other European carriers already operate such services, taking advantage of passengers seeking respite from harsh northerly winters.

In a brief statement, SmartLynx said its turnover in 2017 grew 21% to €131.5 million ($157.5 million). The company gave no details on profits or losses and calls went unanswered.

Detailing its operations, SmartLynx said wet-lease services accounted for 56% of the airline’s business, while charter flights represented a further 42%. Wet-leasing accounted for €73.2 million in 2017, or 26.9% more than in 2016, while charters brought in €55.6 million, up 12.6% on 2016.

The remaining 2% of business was accounted for by services such as the airline’s training center, which the carrier described as the largest pilot training center in the Baltic states and which offers type ratings on the Airbus A320 series.

SmartLynx has a fleet of seven A320s and two A321s, while its Estonian subsidiary operates a further six A320s. In 2017, the airline flew 2.5 million passengers, a 31.6% rise on the previous year.

SmartLynx CEO Zygimantas Surintas said the airline’s increased turnover in 2017 was because of a growing fleet, as well as better utilization of the aircraft, with the company’s aircraft flying on average 26% more hours in 2017 than in 2016. This was at least partly because of the rapidly growing ACMI market.

Alan Dron