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A new carrier takes off in capital

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The inaugural flight of Cambodia Airways leaves Phnom Penh International Airport on Tuesday. Heng Chivoan

A new carrier takes off in capital

Cambodia Airways, the latest passenger airline to enter the Kingdom, launched its first domestic flight on Tuesday.

Flight KR801, carrying 145 passengers, left the Phnom Penh International Airport at 9:50am and landed in Siem Reap at 10:35am in an Airbus A319.

Cambodia Airways marketing and branding manager Sok Ravy said domestic routes connecting Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville will operate daily, while the Siem Reap-Macau, Phnom Penh-Macau and Sihanoukville-Macau routes will operate four times a week.

The first international flight is scheduled for takeoff on July 21.

Ravy said the company plans to add a Siem Reap-Taiwan route at the end of the month.

Acknowledging that there has been a spike in competition in the airline sector, she said there was still plenty of room to grow in the Kingdom, as the tourism industry was also booming.

“We believe the tourism industry will keep steady growth, which will drive demand for good quality airline services. We have quality aircraft, professional captains, well-trained cabin crews and standard services."

“So we believe our company will operate successfully,” Ravy said.

A fleet of two

Cambodia Airways, which is fully owned by the Prince International Airlines Company, is registered in Phnom Penh and received initial approval to operate in August last year. It secured an air operator’s certificate (AOC) on July 6.

With an initial investment of $200 million, the new airline currently operates two Airbus A319 aircraft, with another three A320 aircraft to be commissioned at the end of the year.

Ravy said the company will grow its fleet to 20 aircraft by 2020. The airline expects to operate scheduled flights to Japan, South Korea, Asean countries, as well as routes to Europe and elsewhere in Asia.

The new airline will tighten competition in Cambodia’s increasingly crowded airspace, where 44 commercial airlines operate scheduled flights.

With Cambodian Airways now operating, it puts more pressure on local carriers as the number of domestically registered airlines stand at six.

Cambodia Airports general manager Chloe Lapeyre said the Kingdom is a very attractive market for the sector at the moment because it still hasn’t realised its full tourism potential. Cambodia Airports operates all the airports in the Kingdom.

Lapeyre said the capital’s airport can accommodate between 70 and 90 flights daily – an increase of about 30 percent per year.

“A lot of new international routes have been opening since the beginning of the year. The trend is for faster growth on the international side. That said, there is still space for domestic development too,” she said.

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