Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Air cargo faring better than tourism, but still down 20%

Air cargo faring better than tourism, but still down 20%

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A cargo plane taxiing on the runway after landing at Phnom Penh International Airport last year. Heng Chivoan

Air cargo faring better than tourism, but still down 20%

Cambodia’s air cargo volume totalled 38,783 tonnes in the first eight months of 2022, representing a 10.77 per cent fall year-on-year, and a one-fifth drop over the same period in 2019 before the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the aviation regulator reported.

The decline is largely blamed on prolonged Covid-19 disruptions that have kept some countries from fully lifting restrictions, heightened oil prices linked to Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine, and an escalation of political tensions surrounding Taiwan, Logistics and Supply Chain Business Association in Cambodia (Loscba) president Chea Chandara told The Post on September 18.

Despite this, production systems across the spectrum of sectors nationwide have been by and large running smoothly in 2022, without the Covid-related shocks and temporary factory closures that prevailed over the height of the pandemic, he said, adding that Cambodian products are ready to be made on or ahead of schedule.

“[In general,] when goods are ordered and produced behind schedule, the companies will opt for air transport to meet the deadline, but since production in Cambodia is going well and at the ready, ahead of schedule, most items are being shipped by land or waterways because of the lower costs,” he said.

Chandara affirmed that the average per-kilogramme air freight rate had fallen to about $5, from a Covid-19 era peak of $9-10.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy commented that the drop in air cargo volumes reported by the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) was not too significant, and voiced optimism that the figure would pick up “from now on” as more flights are added.

Chanthy said he recently met the SSCA and Cambodia Airports, where representatives had also predicted an uptick.

Cambodia Airports is the long-standing owner and manager of the Kingdom’s three international airports – Phnom Penh, Sihanouk and Siem Reap international airports.

From 2023 onwards, the SSCA expects suspended flights to more Chinese provinces and other destinations to resume, as well as new routes from South Asia, the Middle East and the EU to be launched.

Speaking at a September 16 press conference on the regulator’s achievements over the past five years, SSCA spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha stressed that there had been “gradual positive signs” in airport passenger and cargo volumes, and revealed that the latter was projected to reach a whopping 400,000 tonnes per annum by 2030.

At an August 30 meeting, a FedEx representative told senior officials of the commerce and transport ministries that the US freight giant plans to launch direct flights to Cambodia from October.

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