Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Angkor Air set for big take-off

Angkor Air set for big take-off

Angkor Air set for big take-off

THE Kingdom’s national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air is set to buy two new planes in order to expand its flight network to South Korea, China and Japan.

The carrier, set up last July in a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Vietnam Airlines, plans to purchase two 168-seat Airbus 321s – which according to a price list compiled by the French maker cost about US$95.5 million each.

Soy Sokhan, undersecretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, the organisation in charge of the Cambodian side of CAA, said yesterday that the purchases were planned for “late 2010 or early 2011”.

“The first destinations to fly to are South Korea, China and Japan, as soon as the new aircraft come,” he said.

The new aircraft will expand CAA’s fleet from three aircraft to five.

The company, set up with an initial investment of US$100 million under a 30-year agreement, now operates two ATR-72 aircraft and an Airbus 321 in 16 daily flights serving Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.

Soy Sokhan said the planes would be brought to Cambodia from Europe. He declined to reveal financing details, saying this was confidential.

Officials and analysts alike said the move could provide a boost to Cambodia’s economy and tourism sector.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said: “We are really eager to see our national carrier fly to those countries.” He added that there were no direct flights operating between the Kingdom and Japan, and that South Korea and China are the leading countries in terms of both visitor arrivals and investment in the Kingdom.

“It’s very good if the direct flight with Japan comes online,” Thong Khon said.

However, both the minister and the private sector had words of advice for CAA as it expands. Thong Khon said the company should consider launching regular flights to Sihanoukville as soon as possible in a bid to attract tourists to Cambodia’s coast.

President of World Express Tours and Travel Ho Vandy, who is also co-chairman of the government-private sector forum on tourism, emphasised that CAA must be competitive.

“On behalf of the tourism private sector, we’d like to suggest that the CAA should set competitive prices to encourage more passengers to use it,” he said. “We also see that service and hospitality on board is still limited. There should be an improvement, and flight attendants’ uniforms should reflect Khmer national identification.”

But CAA remains confident of its market appeal, despite modest initial profits.

Soy Sokhan said: “CAA’s popularity is increasing day by day. For high season, which starts in October, we expect that more tourists will fly with CAA.”

He said CAA had turned a profit since it began operations last year, but that it remained “little”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget