Cathay Pacific Airways is to launch freight and cargo services in Phnom Penh later this month in an effort to tap the rise of country’s export and import activities.
The new service will commence November 23 and will operate as part of a twice-weekly circuit connecting Hong Kong; Singapore; Penang, Malaysia; and Phnom Penh, according to a statement issued on Monday. Cathay Pacific currently operates passenger routes in Cambodia under its subsidiary Dragonair.
“This new service to Phnom Penh will boost the flow of garments and other manufactured products out of Cambodia, taking advantage of our world-class facilities in Hong Kong to connect to our comprehensive cargo network,” Cathay Pacific’s director of cargo, James Woodrow was quoted saying in the November 3 press statement.
Norinda Khek, communications director at Cambodia Airports, said the airline’s decision to enter Cambodia’s air freight market was unsurprising as export volumes continue to rise year-on-year.
“As trade raises so too does air cargo activities,” Khek said.
Annual air-freight volumes arriving and departing Phnom Penh International Airport have more than doubled over the past five financial years from 14,500 tonnes in 2009, to more than 31,000 tonnes as at the end of 2013. That figure is on track to record another 5 per cent increase this year, with 24,500 tonnes already being transported via air during the first nine months of the year.
“It is good news to have Cathay Pacific Airways soon operating freighter services to and from Phnom Penh International Airport as it demonstrates the performance of Cambodia’s economy,” Khek said.
Cheat Khemara, senior official at the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia also welcomed the news but said air logistics remained a last-resort measure for Cambodia’s garment firms.
“Garment export by air is just for emergencies, especially when factories face strike action by workers, which cause delays in production,” Khemara said. “They use [fast] air transport mainly when they need to import accessories to finalised shipments for urgent export. But transportation fees are expensive by air, so the industry must rely heavily on the use of cheaper shipping ports.”