IN a move designed to bolster trade links and facilitate the inflow of foreign investment
into the Kingdom, Royal Air Cambodge (RAC) inaugurated direct service to Guangzhou,
China on Nov 2.
The initial flight was a red carpet, VIP affair as First Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh
led a high-level delegation comprised of senior government ministers and members
of the Royal family to kick off the new air link with one of China's most prosperous
Expressing the government's hopes in opening direct flights to China, Ranariddh told
reporters "We strongly believe that the resumption of flights between Guangzhou
and Phnom Penh will strengthen ties between our two countires, that it will strengthen
state to state relations and also private sector relations. We hope to attract more
investors from China."
While a profitable passenger load may take time to develop, the government is obviously
gambling on the prospects of benefitting from direct access to one of the most economically
active regions on the globe.
China, itself, already has the third largest economy in the world with an overall
growth rate of an astounding 19 percent per year for the years 1992-94. The World
Bank estimates that it will be the world's largest economy by the year 2010.
Of even greater significance is the virtual explosion of economic activity in southern
China, of which Guangzhou is the major provincial capital, where growth rates of
35 percent have been achieved in some areas.
All of this is readily evident in Guangzhou, which to the first-time visitor looks
like a construction company's dream come true. Forty-story office buildings are popping
up all over town. The port is as packed with ships as the six McDonalds outlets in
town are with young Chinese in tee-shirts and jeans munching on Big Macs.
RAC is now flying twice a week to Guangzhou, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with round-trip
ticket priced at about $350. The first regular flight back from China on Nov 6 had
about 20 passengers. The one on Nov 9 only 10, although six Chinese men from Shanghai
were coming to Phnom Penh to open a restaurant and another couple from southern China
planned to set up a health clinic.
But if airport arrival statistics at Pochentong are any indication of demand the
traffic will likely grow once awareness of the new link is more widely known, especially
since arrivals of Chinese from the People's Republic topped the list for the last