Cargo Airline To Take Off Soon, As Royal Air Mulls Charter Flights

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Cambodia will soon have a locally-based cargo airline.

Royal Air Philippines could soon be flying to the Kingdom. Palawan daily news

Southeast Asia Airlines, a company specialising in air cargo delivery across the region, will start operations once the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) gives the go-ahead.

Bella Yao, Southeast Asia Airlines chairwoman, told Khmer Times that they have already applied for an air operating certificate (AOC) and are now awaiting its approval.

“We are already in phase two of the three phases needed for approval. Most likely, we will begin operations by the end of this year,” she said.

The initial investment in the company is about $10 million, she said, adding that the airline is owned by four shareholders: two Cambodians, a Chinese, and a Taiwanese.

Ms Yao said they decided to enter the market when they realised there was no other airline providing fast and efficient transportation of goods to and from Cambodia.

“You can transport the same products by land or sea, but it usually takes time. Some airlines fly both cargo and passengers, but the capacity is much more limited and most often these airlines don’t fly in and out of Cambodia daily,” she pointed out.

“With us, clients will not face the same problems. We have the entire airplane configured to bring cargo to their destinations daily,” she added.

Eric Zhou, CEO of Southeast Asia Airlines, said they will start with two Boeing 737-300 jetliners specially configured for carrying cargo.

“We will lease planes from the United States. After two to three months, we are planning to add another plane to our fleet,” he said, pointing out that if everything goes well they plan to add two cargo planes per year.

Mr Zhou said that in the beginning they will fly cargo to Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, and other countries in Southeast Asia. “We will be flying across the region two times a day. After six months, we will start flying to China,” he said.

According to him, the planes will be configured to carry many kinds of merchandise and products, including machinery, agricultural produce, and spare parts. “As long as they are legal, we will bring them aboard,” he said.

Mr Zhou said they are also looking at bringing to Cambodia delicate items like vaccines that need to be transported fast. “We are not only after profit; we also want to help Cambodia and its people,” he stressed.

In preparation for the start of its operations, the company is building an eight-storey office and warehouse close to the Phnom Penh International Airport.

Meanwhile, Royal Air Philippines could soon be flying to the Kingdom.

BusinessWorld, a Philippine business daily, reported that the airline is seeking to mount charter flights from China and Cambodia to key cities in the Philippines, including Manila, Kalibo, Angeles, and Puerto Princesa.

Established in 2002, Royal Air Philippines provides domestic and international non-scheduled airline and cargo services to Macau and several cities and provinces in the Philippines. It currently has a fleet of three BAe-146-100 jets and an Airbus A319-100.

The airline said travel agents and partners from China were clamouring for the service, adding that the application will be heard by the Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) on August 7. The airline did not reveal when it will apply for authorisation from Cambodian and Chinese authorities.

The airline plans to begin charter flights to Cambodia and China in October, with two flights to Cambodia and five flights to China weekly.

If these plans materialise, Royal Air Philippines will be the third Philippine carrier to fly to Cambodia. Philippine Airlines flies five times a week from Manila to Phnom Penh, while Cebu Pacific has four flights a week to Siem Reap.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.