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New local carrier to launch flights

A new local airline is applying to fly in Cambodia, according to aviation officials, at a time when the market is monopolised by national flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air and a handful of carriers offering chartered routes.

Royal Spirit Airlines last Friday met with the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) to discuss the process of applying for an Air Operator Certificate (AOC), said Vann Chanty, director of the Air Transport Department of the SCCA, over the weekend.

It’s “what we call the introduction of applying for AOC,” Chanty said, adding that the airline would be interested in launching scheduled and on-demand (chartered) flights.

“After they get an understanding of the process, they can file the documents very soon. We expect [the application to come in] this month,” Chanty said. After the application, a minimum of 120 days must elapse before obtaining an AOC.

Chanty could not give any details on the ownership, fleet and route of the proposed new carrier until the documents are submitted: “I don’t know yet what the main intention of the airline is,” he said.

But according to a profile at the Sydney-based Centre for Aviation’s website, Royal Spirit Airlines is a proposed Cambodian start-up and is a joint venture between Taiwanese carrier Far Eastern Air Transport and Taiwanese company Huafu Enterprise Co Ltd. Its main hub will be in Siem Reap and flights will start in mid-2014, the website said.

Far Eastern Air Transport did not reply to an email yesterday. In February, the Taipei-based carrier resumed chartered direct flights from Taiwan to Cambodia after abruptly suspending the flights over a dispute with its Cambodian airline partner about unpaid aviation fuel.

In February 2012, Far Eastern grounded a plane it leased to now-bankrupt Cambodian chartered carrier Tonlesap Airlines at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport that month, saying the company owed about $105,000 in aviation fuel fees.

According to the Ministry of Commerce’s website, a company called Royal Spirit Airways Co Ltd registered with the ministry in April this year. The carrier could not be reached for comment.

Besides Royal Spirit, Cambodia Airlines, a joint venture between Philippine Airlines and Royal Group of Companies, plans to launch flights by the end of the year.



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