Southeast Asian carrier Lao Central Airlines will become the second operator of the Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100 in the region when it takes delivery of the initial of up to nine aircraft it has on order. The first aircraft for the carrier was recently painted in its full corporate livery at the Ulyanvosk, facility of the designer in Russia. It has a firm commitment for three aircraft and options for six more and type certification for the SSJ100 has already been granted by the Laos Civil Aviation Authority.

Although relatively unknown outside of the region, the carrier holds the position of being the first private airline in the Laos People’s Democratic Republic. It was founded in 2010 as Phongsavanh Airlines, part of the wider business interests of Lao company Phongsavanh Group, which is involved in international trading activities as diverse as timber, hospitality, telecommunications, banking and security services.

A later rebranding took place in August 2011 to raise awareness of the airline as a Lao-based venture in international markets. “We decided to change the name to make us more recognisable locally and abroad. The new name will ensure that people know that we are a Lao company, operating out of Laos,” said Thongsay Inthisane, a senior adviser to the venture.

Lao Central Airlines hopes to expand business rapidly in what is a growing aviation market. It is mainly offering flights in domestic skies with links between Luang Prabang, Pakse and Vietiane, which operates alongside an international service between Wattay International Airport in Vietiane and the Thai capital Bangkok. However, it has ambitions to grow and serve destinations across Vietnam, China and Cambodia, before expanding further in the ASEAN region.