AirAsia flies to new heights?

Sok Chan

AirAsia, the Malaysia-based low-cost airline aims to establish Cambodia Air Asia in the Kingdom of Cambodia, says AirAsia’s Group President Bo Lingam.

AirAsia, the Malaysia-based low-cost airline aims to establish Cambodia Air Asia in the Kingdom of Cambodia, says AirAsia’s Group President Bo Lingam.

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The intention was made during the meeting with the Minister of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), Mao Havanall earlier this week .

Mr Lingam told the minister that the aviation sector in Cambodia has developed and growth strong while there is also a growing a number of international tourists visiting Cambodia. He said that Air Asia, a low cost carrier-LLC, has a lot of aircrafts in Asia among the other airlines firm and flight to around 165 countries all over the world.

“Because of this, the firm wants to create Cambodia AirAsia,” Lingam said.

Minister of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Mao Havanall, welcomed the move. He said that Cambodia has full peace, stability, economic growth and is ranked the number 3 for having a good investment environment in Asia for foreign investors.

“We would like the company AirAsia to work with the technical experts of the SSCA before SSCA make the request to the government soon,” Mao added.

SSCA’s spokesman Chea Aun says that at present AirAsia just shows its ambitious to make a subsidiary company called Cambodia AirAsia, but it should be approved by the Cambodian government. He adds that so far it has not made a decision yet with the government on this matter.

Chea says that AirAsia already has AirAsia Malaysia, AirAsia Thailand, AirAsia Indonesia among countries.

“If AirAsia wants to create Cambodia AirAsia it is good for the country as they hope to generate profit from it. They want to invest in Cambodia,” Chea adds. “It is just to show its intention, but a legal framework has yet made on the Cambodia AirAsia,” Chea says.

 

This is the second time that AirAsia has declared an interest I creating an AirAsia Cambodia. In May 2017, the continent’s largest budget airline, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, wanted to open a subsidiary company in Cambodia to handle an anticipated increase in the number of passengers travelling to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville from Malaysia.

The purpose of forming AirAsia Cambodia was brought up by AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes in his meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Asean in May 2017.

Air Aisa’s Bo Lingam with Minister of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, Mao Havanall. Supplied

Mr Fernandes told the prime minister that AirAsia Cambodia, as AirAsia’s new subsidiary company, would be needed to handle an increasing number of air travelers from Malaysia to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

“The prime minister, in turn, replied that he was behind Mr Fernandes’s decision 100 percent.”

Public Works and Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said AirAsia’s decision to start a new subsidiary company in Cambodia reflected the aviation industry’s confidence in the country’s open skies policy. “Cambodia’s open skies policy promotes Asean connectivity and this in turn allows more goods to be transported and more people to travel to other countries,” he said.

AirAsia currently flies daily from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. According to the Cambodia Airports, passenger traffic at Cambodian airports grew by 12 percent in the first eleven months of this year because of new air routes and new airlines being put into operation.

Figures from Cambodia Airports, which manages the country’s three international airports, show that from January to November, passengers amounted to 10.6 million people.

Phnom Penh International Airport and Sihanoukville International Airport saw the biggest traffic growth, while Siem Reap International Airport experienced a decline in traffic.

Phnom Penh International Airport handled 5.5 million passengers, a 12 percent increase, and Sihanoukville International Airport hit a record high with a 177 percent increase to 1.5 million passengers.

Siem Reap International Airport, on the other hand, saw passenger traffic fall 11 percent, to 3.5 million.

“For Phnom Penh international Airport, the growth is driven by new airlines and routes,” said Khek Norinda, communications and public relations director at Cambodia Airports, citing the carrier Citylink’s new route between Jakarta and Phnom Penh and also Chinese carriers.

“For Sihanoukville, new airlines and routes are the main engines of growth. In addition, domestic airlines switched their services from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville,” he said. For Siem Reap, some airlines stopped flying there. For example, Malaysia Airlines and domestic carriers switched their flights to Sihanoukville, he said.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia received 5.2 million foreign tourists from January to October this year, up 9.7 percent. Of that number, 3.7 million passed through the airports, up 12 percent during the period, the report read. Currently, Cambodia has five domestic airlines and 44 international airlines.

 

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