China Airlines plans to increase its services to seven daily flights, from the current five per week, to connect Phonm Penh and Taipei in Taiwan, as part of its expansion plan this year.
Charles Hsu, General Manager (Cambodia) said the move to increase frequency, which begins this March, will help to improve yield and further boost its current load factor that averages about 83 per cent yearly.
“By increasing to daily flights, we expected about 30 per cent to 40 per cent growth in passenger volume between Taipei and Phnom Penh route.
“There is capacity for growth and tourists are interested to travel to Cambodia, especially to Siem Reap,” he told The Post.
The Taipei-headquartered China Airlines transported about 34,000 passengers between both the destinations last year and is hoping 2019 will be a growth-oriented year for the carrier that had been operating the Cambodian route since 2006.
About 55 per cent of the passenger traffic from Taiwan are tourists (mostly group travellers) and about 25 per cent are business travellers, while the balance comprises Visiting Friends and Relatives tourism.
However, Cambodians flying to Taiwan only make up about 10 per cent of each flight.
The airline flies the 737-800 aircraft with 150 economic seats and eight business class seats.
“We have not been making profits in the last 13 years, it is a tough business. We hope to break even in one or two years, make some profit and operate for a long time.
“I am very optimistic of the prospects, with the high economic growth rate which is the highest in Asia and the rising middle class.
“I believe international traffic out of Cambodia could grow at the rate of 10 per cent to 20 per cent yearly,” he added.
The Taiwan News reported that 82,000 Taiwanese visited Cambodia in 2017 and as of July last year, 55,000 landed in the Kingdom.
According to the newspaper, about 25,000 Taiwanese tourists visited the historical Angkor Wat every year.
The airline also transports about two tonnes of cargo from Cambodia in every flight and that number is forecast to rise this year.
“We expect to grow between 30 per cent and 40 per cent this year compared to last year,” said Hsu.
China Airlines is competing in a tight market, along with three other carriers servicing the same sector – Taiwan’s EVA Air, JC (Cambodia) International Airlines and Cambodia Airways.
The airline, which is part of the Sky Team Alliance, connects 161 destinations in 29 countries.
Reputed to be Taiwan’s top airline, its fleet comprises 88 aircraft, including 70 passenger jets and 18 freighters as of January.
The Cambodian skyline has turned busy in recent years with eight local carriers operate in the market, and an additional 35 international airlines connect Cambodia and international routes.
Airports in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap registered record traffic of 10 million passengers last year, both inbound and outbound travellers, according to Cambodia Airports.
Cambodia is expecting over six million tourists this year and seven million visitors by 2020.
The significant rise in tourists is mainly due to the prevailing peace and stability in the country plus the improved connectivity to major cities across the globe.
And, this has encouraged more foreign airlines to launch their operations in Cambodia.
Last November, Cambodia and Nepal signed the Air Service Agreement that will allow 14 weekly flights between both capitals.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Airlines will launch five flights per week from Manila to Phnom Penh starting April 1.
According to Boeing’s Commercial Market Outlook 2018–2037, the Southeast Asia’s aviation sector is expected to register a robust growth, mainly driven by the growing middle class in developing economies.
“During the last decade, Southeast Asia has emerged as one of the largest aviation markets in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Driven by continued strong economic development, middle-class expansion, and increased consumer spending in the services sector.
“Southeast Asia has shown vigorous growth in all core dimensions of the aviation market,” said the report.