Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Politics, economy put profits down: Thai Air

Politics, economy put profits down: Thai Air

Politics, economy put profits down: Thai Air

Thai Airways International Pcl aircraft sit parked at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International airport in November. The closure of the airport due to protests at the end of 2008 is still hurting the airline, said Thai Airways General Manager for Cambodia Narinthorn Purnagupta. BLOOMBERG

Carrier says Cambodian officials no longer booking flights

Normally, we coUld say [the government] would book with Thai."

THAI Airways suffered a drop of about 15 percent on passenger loads and revenues last year on its Cambodia route, the carrier’s general manager in Phnom Penh said Thursday, blaming the economic crisis and fallout from the recent political spat between Prime Minister Hun Sen and his counterpart in Bangkok.

Narinthorn Purnagupta said the deterioration in diplomatic relations between the two countries has had a negative impact on Thailand’s national carrier – a trend that began with the closure of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport by political protesters in late 2008, adding that Cambodian government officials have stopped booking official flights on Thai Airways.

“Normally, we could say they would book with Thai [Airways],” Narinthorn said, adding that their names had not shown up on bookings recently.
Government officials denied Thursday there was any boycott of the carrier in place.

“We warmly welcome Thai products,” said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan. Economic relations between the two countries, he said, “is normal”.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said that there is “freedom of choice” to select any airline on government visits abroad based on price, convenience and quality of service.

Thai Airways is the only non-point-to-point airline that flies between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, the main reason behind the airline’s decision to target long-haul passengers in a bid to expand operations in the Kingdom, Narinthorn said.

Thai Airways’ slump – which saw passenger loads average just below 65 percent on Cambodia routes in 2009 – was worse than the industry average.

Ministry of Tourism data showed air passenger numbers fell an annualised 11.6 percent for the first 11 months, but the whole year’s numbers were likely to have been improved – the base figure for the end of 2008 was low due to the onset of the global economic crisis, while November’s drop in air passengers was just 2.8 percent year on year.

The drop in Thai Airways cargo traffic was much sharper, said Narinthorn, as volumes fell between 50 and 60 percent.

“The garments have gone,” he said, referring to Cambodia’s main export product.

The situation had shown signs of improvements in the second half, he added.

Thai Airways fell about 13 percent below revenue targets for its Cambodia operations in 2009, Narinthorn said, although the airline has raised this figure for 2010.

“We believe this year will be much better,” he said, without giving an exact figure.

Cambodia’s GDP was expected to contract 1.5 percent last year, according to the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit’s January outlook, with the economy forecast to rebound with 3.3 percent growth this year.

Nevertheless, competition among airlines in the region is increasing.

A manager at Vietnam Airlines in Japan said Tuesday that Vietnam would aim to become the regional hub for travel to Cambodia and Laos.

Narinthorn said he was happy for Vietnam to challenge Thailand for the Cambodia market, but that regionally Thailand’s position was secure following extensive investment – particularly in Suvarnabhumi Airport – and because of the country’s location within Asia.

“Geography is helping us,” he said.



  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s