Cambodia Angkor Air, the Kingdom’s flag carrier, inked an agreement with Singapore-based aircraft leasing company BOC Aviation Ltd yesterday to dry lease two Airbus A320s, with the new planes scheduled for delivery by the end of the year.
Tekreth Samrach, chairman of Cambodia Angkor Air, said ahead of the contract signing that the addition of the two aircraft would support the airline’s increased passenger traffic and future route expansion. He added that even more aircraft would be needed soon.
“With these two new A320 aircraft . . . Cambodia Angkor Air is set to grow,” he said.
The twin-engine A320 is one of the world’s most popular civilian aircraft, with seating capacity of up to 180 passengers and a range of nearly 6,500 kilometres. European aircraft manufacturer Airbus lists the new A320 at an average unit price of $98 million.
Samrach declined to disclose the rental fees that Cambodia Angkor will pay BOC Aviation, but said the two new planes would be acquired on a 15-year dry lease, that is, where the financing entity provides an aircraft without crew or ground staff.
“We’re a small airline and cannot afford a new aircraft like this as the cost is nearly $100 million, so the finance channel we can use is to lease it from BOC,” he said.
Cambodia Angkor Air is a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Vietnam Airlines. The airline currently operates domestic services, as well as international flights to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea and China.
According to Samrach, the airline currently operates a fleet of seven aircraft, comprising four A321s and three ATR 72s, though the lease on one aircraft is set to expire soon. He said that the airline plans to increase its fleet size to up to 12 aircraft by 2020.
“We have committed to using the [two] new A320 aircraft . . . and we will need to acquire even more new aircraft in the future to fly to Japan or India,” he said.
Phang Thim Fatt, deputy managing director of BOC Aviation, a subsidiary of the state-owned Bank of China, said that his company has leased some 230 aircraft to more than 50 different airlines. However, this is its first time they’ve arranged a lease for a Cambodian airline.
“I am sure that these new planes will provide our customers with a new experience,” he said, adding that Cambodia has huge potential to benefit from the tourism sector. “We hope that this will lead to greater success for the airline.”
Ang Kim Eang, owner of travel agency Great Angkor Tours, said Cambodia Angkor Air’s fleet expansion was a good sign for the Kingdom’s aviation sector and tourism industry.
He said Cambodia still has enormous potential to grow its passenger air traffic, especially with the number of inbound Chinese and Indian tourists increasing every year.
“The addition of new aircraft means the Cambodian airline will operate more routes to bring in more tourists from new markets,” he said.
“This will help increase the number of foreign visitors to our country, which benefits our economy.”
According to Cambodia Airports, which operates the Kingdom’s three international airports, these airports handled more than 3.4 million passengers during the first half of the year, a 4.9 percent increase compared to the same period in 2015.