Cambodians pay about 30 per cent less for domestic flights than foreigners, Cambodia Angkor Air told the Post yesterday.
The airline, which has a monopoly on the domestic market, offers limited seats to locals via travel agents.
While a flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap usually costs $100 to $125, locals pay only $75 to $85, according to Anna Spencer, travel agent and owner of ANA Travel in Sihanoukville.
“I think this is a good offer from Angkor Air,” she said.
Tek Reth Samrach, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers and chairman of Angkor Air, confirmed: “We want to encourage more local people to fly.”
He added that the discount for domestic flights is only for Cambodian citizens and is reserved to a few seats per flight.
“This is a common practice in several countries – for example, in Vietnam. You can see it especially where the airline is owned or regulated by the government,” said Nick Ray, adviser to Hanuman travel company.
However, the discount for locals has a limited impact on the airline’s revenues, he added, as the Cambodian domestic market is very small and the airline is competing with public transportation.
“It would be more attractive to stimulate the demand by charging less for international flights,” Ray said.
Brendan Sobie, chief analyst with the Centre for Aviation in Singapore, said the real problem is the lack of competition in the aviation market.
“Angkor Air controls the prices, because there is no other airline on the domestic market,” he said, adding that the company should offer more routes meeting travellers’ needs.
Vietnam Airlines owns 49 per cent of Cambodia Angkor Air, which was launched in 2009 as a joint venture with the Cambodian government.
Cambodia’s three airports served more than 4.3 million passengers in 2012. Nonetheless, the country remains “the most under-served market in Southeast Asia”, along with Myanmar, according to a Centre for Aviation report released last month.