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French airport group banks on rising Kingdom fliers

A plane takes off from Phnom Penh International Airport in 2013.
A plane takes off from Phnom Penh International Airport in 2013. Heng Chivoan

French airport group banks on rising Kingdom fliers

Passenger growth for Vinci Airports, the airport management arm of French conglomerate Vinci, increased by 12.6 percent during the first nine months of 2017 compared with the same period last year, with Cambodia operations showing the largest percentage growth for the company.

The operator ferried 112 million passengers during the first nine months of 2017, with Cambodia’s three international airports handling a total of 6.3 million passengers, a 25.7 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, passenger growth in Portugal grew by 17.7 percent followed by Chile at 10.9 percent.

Cambodia Airports’ strong growth was attributed to the arrival of new carriers and routes including the launch of an Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai in July, according to Vinci. The report added that passenger growth at Phnom Penh International Airport rose by 24.5 percent during the period with Siem Reap International Airport increasing by 21.8 percent. Sihanoukville International Airport grew by 162 percent, albeit from a low base.

Cambodia Airports Communication Director Khek Norinda said yesterday that the growth in passengers coming to the Kingdom was due the country’s solid economic growth and increased connectivity.

“There are opportunities and more room for growth in the aviation market as demand for air travel worldwide and in particular in the Asia-Pacific region keeps on increasing,” he said.

Cheav Kirirom, airline production manager for JC International Airlines, a newcomer that launched operations in March of this year, said that the aviation sector has continued to support economic and tourism growth from both international and domestic passengers.

“The aviation market is growing fast and there is a lot of demand, which is why there are a lot of airline companies investing in Cambodia,” he said.

At least five new passenger airlines are preparing to launch Cambodia-based operations within the next year, up from the current level of seven, a fact that Kirirom acknowledged could be problematic.

“It will be challenging to compete with other low-cost carriers, but we have our own strategy for the market,” he said, adding that JC had recently launched new flights to China as well as South Korea.