THE number of passengers on Cambodia Angkor Air flights has risen this year, enabling aircraft to fly 61 percent full, reaping higher revenue for the national carrier.
Cambodia Angkor Air passenger load – which measures the percentage of occupied passenger space – has risen from just 20 to 30 percent a year ago to from 57 to 61 percent today.
Airlines begin to generate revenue when passenger load is above 50 percent, according to officials.
Loads on routes between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap were now 57 percent, Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, were 61 percent, and Siem Reap and Saigon were 57 percent.
“Our success is running alongside an increase in the number of tourists arriving,” said Soy Sokhan, undersecretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, the organisation in charge of the Cambodian side of the joint enterprise.
Tourist arrivals to Cambodia rose more than 12 percent in the first half of the year to 1.221 million, from 1.086 million in the same period of last year.
Air arrivals had increased by about 14 percent during the same period, according to Tourism Ministry data.
Soy Sokhan said that passenger loads began to pick up late last year before rising to today’s highs, after CAA launched in July 2009.
CAA is a joint venture between the government and Vietnam Airlines.
It received an air operator certificate from the SSCA last month, after operating under VA’s permit. But some members of the tourism industry are still concerned about the carrier’s prices.
Ho Vandy, President of World Travel Express Tour, said yesterday that high CAA ticket prices would impact industry growth.
VLK Royal Tourism General Manager, Lav Heng, agreed that CAA should offer “better prices” for the success of the tourism sector.
Mai Xuan Long, deputy director of CAA, said yesterday that the CAA could consider its pricing levels if the market improved.
But despite criticisms, CAA plans to extend its fleet and routes throughout the Asia region.
Soy Sokhan said the carrier plans to import a new Airbus 321 in April, and that another is due in August.
It also plans to expand operations to South Korea, China, Singapore, Bangkok and Hanoi.
Cambodia and Vietnam are also preparing to open a new route from Da Lat, in central Vietnam, to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, a move already approved by Cambodia’s Council of Ministers.
Late last month, during an economic meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, provincial Vietnamese authorities also asked Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh to help launch direct flights from Siem Reap to Vietnam’s Thua Thien Hue province.