Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SilkAir exec on local market

SilkAir exec on local market

SilkAir’s manager in Cambodia, Tan Han Soo, talks at his office in Phnom Penh last month
SilkAir’s manager in Cambodia, Tan Han Soo, talks at his office in Phnom Penh last month. Heng Chivoan

SilkAir exec on local market

Last year, Cambodia welcomed 4.2 million foreign tourists, a rise of more than 17 per cent year on year. More than two million of those visitors travelled by air, an increase of 47 per cent. With 24 foreign-owned airlines operating in the Kingdom, Singapore’s SilkAir is one of the main carriers serving the Phnom Penh-Singapore and Singapore-Siem Reap routes. SilkAir’s manager in Cambodia, Tan Han Soo, sat down with the Post’s May Kunmakara to talk about competition and how SilkAir is faring in the regional market.

When did SilkAir start flying here?
We first came to Phnom Penh in October of 1992. We started flights to Siem Reap in November of 2000. We fly twice a day on the Singapore-Phnom Penh route and have 11 flights weekly between Singapore and Siem Reap. For us, we see future growth here. We are here for the long term.

Singapore-based Tiger Air began serving the same routes in October 2012. Are you concerned about the competition?
That was the same month we had our 10-year anniversary here. Competition will help to keep us on top and it is good for the aviation industry, for the country and for the economy because the ASEAN countries are expanding air service and that is opening up the market.

So I think it is good for everyone. I don’t want to mention much about other carriers. We are talking only about our own. What I can say is that since Tiger launched services, our passenger numbers have not been affected. We still see increases in passenger numbers because we have a different market segment and we offer good quality services.

Does the amount of low-cost flights affect your business?
I think the important thing to remember is that we have our own market segment. SilkAir is not a low-cost carrier. That is a very important point. We are a full premium service carrier.

Cambodian aviation officials say that in the next few years, 10 more airlines will operate in Cambodia. Any thoughts on what may become a crowded sector?
This is something encouraging because it will actually increase Cambodia’s profile in the region. The more there are, the better it is.

With the government pushing tourism to the coastal areas, does SilkAir have expansion plans, like to Sihanoukville?
I think Sihanoukville’s airport at the moment is not ready, because when we fly, we have to look at the market demand, infrastructure, safety and security.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said

  • CPP: ‘Behave or Sokha suffers’

    The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman warned Kem Monovithya on Thursday that her attempt to damage “national reputation and prestige” would lead to her father, Kem Sokha, receiving even harsher punishment. Sok Eysan issued the warning as Monovithya, who is the court dissolved

  • Preah Sihanouk beach developments halted

    After receiving an order from Hun Sen, Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara led a team of experts and relevant officials to Sihanoukville to call a halt to the illegal development of a beach. The prime minister ordered the Prek Treng beach in Otres commune