Start-up European operator HiSky Moldova has agreed to acquire its first aircraft, an Airbus A320, under a deal with US lessor Air Lease.

HiSky Moldova will receive the used aircraft in July, according to the lessor.

It intends to operate from its Chisinau base initially to six destinations, including London, Paris, Dublin, Lisbon, Bologna and Dusseldorf.

HiSky has identified the aircraft as MSN4493, a 2010 airframe powered by International Aero Engines V2500s, originally delivered to Scoot but most recently used by Italian carrier Ernest Airlines which ceased operations in January this year.

“We are thrilled to work with one of the largest aircraft leasing companies in the world to assist with the launch of our airline,” says HiSky chief executive Iulian Scorpan.

Scorpan is the former head of flag-carrier Air Moldova.

HiSky’s early development has not been smooth. It emerged shortly before the coronavirus crisis threw European air transport into chaos. Moldovan regulators have prohibited passenger flights until at least the beginning of July.

But even beforehand the start-up had run into problems with the Moldovan civil aviation authority.

The authority stated in February that it had refused to issue HiSky with an air operator’s certificate, for which it had applied the previous November, because it had no aircraft and had not provided sufficient documentation to support the application.

It also openly questioned HiSky’s decision to describe itself as an ‘airline’ and offer tickets on European routes, given that it did not have an air operator’s certificate, and accusing the company of “misleading” customers.

At the time HiSky had declared it planned to use a pair of A320s and operate under the IATA designator code ‘4H’ with services beginning in April.

All Moldovan airlines – with the exception of Air Moldova, FlyOne and Aerotranscargo – are blacklisted by the European Commission, and HiSky had stated that the new carrier would be formed through a partnership with Romanian Boeing 737-300 operator Cobrex Trans.

HiSky has published a Moldovan civil aviation authority document, dated 7 April, approving a Cobrex Trans plan to operate on the six initial routes, but using its 737-300 registered YR-CBK, a 1992 airframe.

Although HiSky states that its initial A320 is being dry-leased, and that it will be painted in HiSky colours, it has yet to clarify how the aircraft will be operated.