Ahead of launching their new daily service on June 1, connecting passengers from Phnom Penh to Dubai via Bangkok in their Boeing 777 aircraft, Emirates commercial manager Abdulla Adnan spoke to The Post about how the airline is faring in the Cambodian market, and what challenges they are overcoming in their quest to be successful in the Kingdom.
Emirates started passenger flights to Cambodia in July 2017 and according to Adnan the airline has experienced good load factors since inception, “we see the stability (in passenger load factors) as a stable growth, we have seen good growth, we have made some very good numbers” and this has been true of the airline since day one, “we have seen healthy growth since the time we started operating “.
Evidenced by the fact that Emirates has carried over 100,000 passengers in and out of Cambodia since beginning operations.
In an exciting development Adnan said that Emirates will soon improve its new Phnom Penh to Dubai via Bangkok flight route, by offering first class seats for the first time in Cambodia. Adnan told us “We will start our new link with Bangkok on the 1st of June, since we started we haven’t had any first class products available in Cambodia but now we will and I think that will be something amazing for Cambodia, we will finally flex our muscles and show the proper premium travel that Emirates is famous for”.
Emirates is more than just an airline though as Adnan said, “Obviously we have a product to sell, most of the time though we are more than an airline, we cater to a lot of things.
Tourism, we have packages for tourists if they want to use Emirates we can avail them with packages, different hotels, different transportation”.
Emirates also like to think that via their connections to over 150 destinations in 86 countries their network can be of benefit to Cambodia, “that is all available to Cambodians, and at the same time, those 150 destinations also make Cambodia available, so we link to the world (via our services)’.
In terms of passenger demographics on their services in and out of Cambodia, Adnan remarked, “we have a wide range of demographics, a lot of different styles of people”, a strong sign that the market will continue to grow as more and more people gain access to disposable income that can make air travel more attainable. Adnan went on, “in terms of business people we have something called M.I.C.E., Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions. We can avail contacts to different exhibitors or exhibits taking place in different regions and parts of the world”.
When questioned about challenges that have emerged in the Kingdom since Emirates started operations Adnan said, “we are still a fairly new international company in Cambodia. We set up shop very quickly, that’s like moving house or moving in to a new neighbourhood. You need to know where the supermarket is, where the laundry is, all of those things. So when we started we had to establish our relationships with all our stakeholders.”
This involved educating the Cambodian public on the offerings and services that Emirates provide, “We needed to educate the market on what Emirates is and show people what we actually are, like I said we are not a big flying bus, we needed to educate people about our different products, our different services, our in-flight products, our different products in Dubai that you can use via Emirates”.
Another key challenge that Emirates face is that of new players and existing players with new offerings, that dynamic flux is something Adnan says is a constant in the market and how a company decides to respond is crucial, “You have new players coming in to the market, you must look at two things. You have to see if it is going to affect your market share and at the same time you have to look at what kind of finished product they are selling. Our (Emirates) finished product is Dubai because that is our hub”, adding “not only new players present challenges for example, some airlines bring in newer aircraft, bigger aircraft ... in peak season everyone wants to fly, so we have to keep that in mind and take it on board and try to adapt and make a good decision”.
There is already a high level of competition, but this is nothing new in the aviation sector, “that is the world of aviation in a nutshell, it is volatile, it changes quickly, it is dynamic, so you have to be very quick to act”, said Adnan.
With regard to success in the Kingdom, the same sorts of processes used in markets abroad need to be adhered to in order to foster growth. For Emirates that means clear lines of communication.
The size of a company like Emirates can pose a problem when it comes to communicating effectively internationally and across time zones. Adnan says that the communications within Emirates are swift, “ when I say swift I mean nothing goes on pause, it is a big chain, if a certain link is broken off, the whole chain is for nothing. So communication is key. That is why it is very important that we all have very good communication together at Emirates and we all have one common goal, and that is to succeed at all times”.
In the meantime Emirates see an opportunity to continue to grow and succeed in the Kingdom.
In terms of the Cambodian aviation sector Adnan is very positive, “it is a growing economy, it is a growing country ... there are plans to build a huge new airport in Cambodia, which shows you that the government itself has the belief that there will be good growth in aviation, that is a positive sign to be honest”.