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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RAC takes off to Guangzhou

RAC takes off to Guangzhou

IN a move designed to bolster trade links and facilitate the inflow of foreign investment

into the Kingdom, Royal Air Cambodge (RAC) inaugurated direct service to Guangzhou,

China on Nov 2.

The initial flight was a red carpet, VIP affair as First Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh

led a high-level delegation comprised of senior government ministers and members

of the Royal family to kick off the new air link with one of China's most prosperous

cities.

Expressing the government's hopes in opening direct flights to China, Ranariddh told

reporters "We strongly believe that the resumption of flights between Guangzhou

and Phnom Penh will strengthen ties between our two countires, that it will strengthen

state to state relations and also private sector relations. We hope to attract more

investors from China."

While a profitable passenger load may take time to develop, the government is obviously

gambling on the prospects of benefitting from direct access to one of the most economically

active regions on the globe.

China, itself, already has the third largest economy in the world with an overall

growth rate of an astounding 19 percent per year for the years 1992-94. The World

Bank estimates that it will be the world's largest economy by the year 2010.

Of even greater significance is the virtual explosion of economic activity in southern

China, of which Guangzhou is the major provincial capital, where growth rates of

35 percent have been achieved in some areas.

All of this is readily evident in Guangzhou, which to the first-time visitor looks

like a construction company's dream come true. Forty-story office buildings are popping

up all over town. The port is as packed with ships as the six McDonalds outlets in

town are with young Chinese in tee-shirts and jeans munching on Big Macs.

RAC is now flying twice a week to Guangzhou, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with round-trip

ticket priced at about $350. The first regular flight back from China on Nov 6 had

about 20 passengers. The one on Nov 9 only 10, although six Chinese men from Shanghai

were coming to Phnom Penh to open a restaurant and another couple from southern China

planned to set up a health clinic.

But if airport arrival statistics at Pochentong are any indication of demand the

traffic will likely grow once awareness of the new link is more widely known, especially

since arrivals of Chinese from the People's Republic topped the list for the last

three years.

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