New startup airline, Bassaka Air (BA), was yesterday granted its aircraft operation certificate (AOC) from the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA).
Representatives from BA, which has partnered with the state-owned China International Travel Services (CITS) and will lease its two Airbus A320 aircraft from casino firm NagaCorp to ferry in Chinese tourists, said the first flight is yet to be confirmed.
“This is only the first step. We have many more steps to go before we can schedule our flight,” Joseph Stecker, chief executive officer of BA, said.
“The fact is that now we have AOC. Others steps have to take place before we can take flight and I cannot give any specific date.”
Yesterday’s approval comes just weeks after the Post revealed NagaCorp’s plan to launch its own commercial flights between Phnom Penh and China under the lessor name, Bassaka Air, in an effort to boost its Chinese VIP junket program.
Stecker denied the casino operator had any financial interest in BA, however confirmed the aircraft were leased from NagaCorp.
Sin Chanserey Vutha, spokesman of SSCA, said there are many Chinese businesses in Cambodia that need easy connections between the two nations. He also said there are many Chinese tourists who come to Cambodia purely for gambling.
“What do Chinese tourists like? We know. They like eating and gambling. I cannot say that the company [BA] focuses only Chinese gamblers as it might also focus on businessman or tourists,” he said.
Meanwhile, NagaCorp, owner of Cambodia’s largest gaming operation, NagaWorld, yesterday published financial results for the first nine months of the year.
According to the firm’s unaudited statement, gross gaming revenue totalled $271.9 million, up 26 per cent from $215 million during the same period last year.
VIP junket rollings for NagaCorp totalled almost $4.1 billion at the end of September, according to the October 3 statement, up 25 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.