NATIONAL carrier Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA) recently bought a new Airbus 321 from Europe as part of its expansion into international routes to meet a rise in market demand. The CAA also plans to import one more plane early next year.
CAA is a joint venture between the government, which owns a 51 per cent stake, and Vietnam Airlines. The airline now has two ATR 72s to fly domestic routes.
An official for the Secretariat of State and Civil Aviation (SSCA) told the Post yesterday that the Airbus arrived in Siem Reap on Friday and will serve two main international routes between Phnom Penh and Saigon and Siem Reap to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Soy Sokhan, under secretary of state for the SSCA, said the Airbus flew its first flight on Saturday with 93 passengers. “Our tourism industry is flourishing and there are huge needs – the Airbus is in response to market demand,” he said.
Tourism Minister Thong Khon applauded the airline and said it will help fulfill the rapid increase in demand for flights. However, he suggested that when the company gets more aircraft, they should not lose focus on their domestic services.
“They should not cut domestic flights or delay flights without a clear reason,” he said. He also suggested the airline consider flying to countries within ASEAN, ASEAN+3 and India. “We see their airlines normally fly to us. So, now we should fly back to them as their markets have great potential,” said Thong Khon.
He added that tourists from the Asia-Pacific region represent 73 per cent of total arrivals – of which ASEAN accounts for 43 per cent.
Soy Sokhan said the airline has increased its flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to five per day and also flies three times per week to Sihanoukville.
He said the airline plans to import one more Airbus 321 early next year to service three other international routes to China, Korea and Japan.
Tourist arrivals by air rose by 16.6 per cent over the first 10 months of the year to about 1.3 million, data from the Ministry of Tourism showed.