Private Chinese carrier Juneyao Airlines is planning to launch direct flights from Shanghai to Cambodia as soon as this month. The move – which has been labelled unrealistic – would also see the airline potentially break into the monopolised route from the Chinese city.
The Shanghai-based carrier has applied to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to fly to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh from June and July, respectively, according to a release earlier this week on the CAAC website.
The scheduled Airbus A320 flights would take place once a day. According to the release, CAAC will wait until next Wednesday for other parties to submit their “views” about Juneyao’s plans.
This means other airlines can, for example, inform CAAC that they are also interested in flying the same route, said a CAAC spokesperson. These “views” would aid CAAC in deciding whether to approve Juneyao’s plans, since capacity for new flights, such as air space, is limited, he added.
Currently, flights from Shanghai to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are being served only by China Eastern Airlines. But national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA) is also rushing to break up the monopoly, aiming to launch flights to Shanghai by August.
Juneyao, however, might be aiming too high with plans to enter the market this month, said Vann Chanty, director of air transport with Cambodia’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation. “I have not received any application [from Juneyao],” he said.
Airlines must receive approval from both nations’ civil aviation authorities.
In addition, the process of launching flights is not immediate, he said. “Do you think the airline can sell tickets today and fly tomorrow?”
According to the government-private sector working group on tourism co-chair, Ho Vandy, existing flights to Shanghai receive lower demand among Cambodians than for Guangzhou or Hong Kong. Having more flights would hopefully lower prices and boost travel there, he said.
About 334,000 Chinese tourists visited Cambodia last year, a 35 per cent leap from 2011.