Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prince drops hints of airline shake-up



Prince drops hints of airline shake-up

Prince drops hints of airline shake-up

K AMPUCHEA Airline's chairman Prince Sisowath Chivan Monirak dropped some broad hints about imminent big upheavals in the Cambodian airline industry in an interview with the Post.

He confirmed the airline would soon be renamed Royal Air Cambodge in a major restructuring and its partnership with SK Air would terminate on Jan 31 next year. SK Air would then be unable to operate using Cambodia's allocation of seats in bilateral international air service agreements and would then be faced with the choice of finding another country to fly from or dissolving itself. The Thai-owned airline only has a solitary Boeing 737 leased from Thai International.

Prince Chivan Monirak however was more evasive about the fate of Cambodia International Airlines in the shake-up. At the least CIA, another Thai-owned independent, would have to be renamed, he said. CIA would also be likely to lose two-thirds of its seat allocation to Hong Kong, the prince said and hinted that it might be asked to cease operations altogether from Khmer soil.

"It is 100 percent sure that Royal Air Cambodge is going to operate sooner than we expect. It is going to be a private company, though there will not be any shareholders," said Prince Chivan Monirak. He added that he expected to make a full announcement on the shape of the new airline by the end of October.

The former fighter pilot said he signed a six-month extension of KA's agreement with SK Air on August 19. SK Air operates to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.

But he added: "The end of the relationship between KA and SK will perhaps transpire on Jan 31."

The prince said KA's transformation might not take place overnight, with initially only some of its fleet of ageing Russian planes being repainted in the new RAC livery.

"When RAC is going to be born, somehow KA is still alive and at one point we have two Cambodian airlines co-existing," he said.

The Prince refused to be drawn on speculation that Malaysia Airlines would join in the RAC venture.

He has asked the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to notify CIA that its name had to be changed within 30-45 days of the formation of the new RAC.

"I have made a request that under no circumstances can another airline operate under the name Cambodia, Khmer, Kampuchea or Cambodge, which leads to confusion," said Prince Chivan Monirak.

He refused to say whether CIA would be asked to cease operating from Khmer soil altogether saying, "it depends, there's a lot of elements, it is too early to answer." But he added that a letter signed by the Cambodian Council of Ministers in February grounding CIA prior to the take-off of RAC was still in effect.

Internationally Bangkok, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur would be the top priorities for RAC, said the Prince. He explained he had also asked the DCA to switch 200 of the 300 seats allocated under the bilateral air service agreement from CIA to RAC.

CIA's Assistant Managing Director Jimmy Gao declined to comment about the airline's future with the formation of RAC.

But he "welcomed" KA to share the Hong Kong route. He said: "We can make a special arrangement to share the market."

  • KA is to take delivery of the first of two brand-new ATR-72s on October 26, with flights to Siem Reap increasing from four to five a day. The move follows the expiry of the lease on the ATR-72 currently with the airline. The extra aircraft will be used to cover the increased flight frequency in the high tourist season for Siem Reap, the gateway to the Angkor temple complex. It may also be used on the Battambang route.
  • CIA was poised to take delivery of a reconditioned Boeing 727 as the Post went to press. The new aircraft will be used to cover for CIA's Boeing 737 in the event of mechanical trouble and to run charter flights to holiday destinations in Thailand and Malaysia and to southern Chinese cities. The 727 also puts CIA in range of Tokyo, a route it has been eyeing.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and