Cambodia Airways is holding talks with Boeing, the American airplane manufacturer, to explore possible business ties as part of their expansion plan next year.
The airways Managing Director Yifei Jiang told The Post that the company’s senior management had met Boeing officials twice but talks were still at a very early stage.
“We did have a meeting with Boeing last week. We are building an international airline and goaled to be one of the best airlines in the region.
“In order to do so, we must keep our eyes and mind open to all possible opportunities, not only new destinations but also the possibility of sourcing from new partners.
“The Boeing talk is still at very early stage. But they have planned a visit to our headquarters in Phnom Penh. By then, we will have more discussions with them,” said Jiang.
About six months after launching its operations, Cambodia Airways is gearing up to fly to populous cities like Manila and Jakarta in the Asean region to grow its passenger traffic next year, as it strategises to compete in the tough aviation sector.
China with 1.38 billion people, Indonesia home to about 265 million and the Philippines with another 104 million people – with a combined population of almost 1.68 billion people – are several countries the airline has earmarked as potential markets for expansion.
“At present, there is no direct flight connecting Cambodia and the Philippines or Indonesia, not even between capitals.
“This has brought a lot of inconvenience to the businesses between these countries. Therefore, the flight connection between these capitals will be the focus of Cambodia Airways’ next stage of business development plan.
“And China is a big and growing market, definitely it is a profitable market to explore,” said Jiang.
The airline is set to focus on ASEAN ‑ home to about 630 million people with strong purchasing power.
The region’s gross domestic product growth of about five percent in recent years and the Asia-Pacific region’s aviation market growing at an annual rate of 11 percent, bode well for the aviation industry as a whole, she said.
With a fleet of three aircraft, the airline took to the skies in July this year and since then, it has flown 753 times safely and transported more than 64,000 passengers to date from its main base in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville Airport.
Besides, opening new destinations, to get more flights to the high-traffic routes around ASEAN, it will also include Thailand and Singapore.
At the same time, destinations in Northeast Asia are also on its priority list.
“The Phnom Penh– Bangkok route will definitely be our next step in 2019. Besides, ASEAN routes, Cambodia Airways will also start penetrating Northeast Asia.
“We expect to open China routes in the first quarter of 2019, and South Korea and Japan in the second half of the year,” added Jiang.
The company is also taking advantage of the China-initiated One Belt One Road initiative, which will open up more trade and people’s movement in the region.
In tandem with opening new markets, Cambodia Airways is also upgrading its fleet.
“By the end of next year, our fleet will reach seven aircraft and we will become the largest airline in Cambodia,” said Jiang.
She has an ambition to transform the carrier into a national airline by creating a strong Khmer identity and promote Cambodia as an important destination.
At present nine airlines operate in the Kingdom — Cambodia Airways, Cambodia Angkor Air, Sky Angkor Airlines, JC International Airlines, Lanmei Airlines, Small Planet Airlines, KC International Airlines, Bassaka Air, and Cambodia Bayon Airlines — operating a total of 40 aircraft. These carries serve the growing inbound and outbound travel from Cambodia.