United Arab Emirates’ national airline Etihad has officially launched a weekly cargo service between Abu Dhabi and Phnom Penh to meet the rising trend of air cargo transport, especially garment and footwear exports.
UAE-based Trade Arabia News Service quoted David Kerr, senior vice-president of Etihad Cargo, as saying that Asia has a strong trade connection with Europe. “Freight demand on the Asia-Europe trade corridor is among the strongest in the world,” he said.
“With Cambodia being a fast-developing export economy, transporting goods and services to the world’s big consumer markets is vital to support the country’s dynamic growth. Etihad Cargo is delighted to add Cambodia to our Asian network of freighter and passenger destinations.”
Khek Norinda, group communications director of Cambodia Airports, said the airline started weekly cargo flights to Cambodia in mid-May. “It reflects the steady growth of air cargo driven by the country’s economic dynamism,” said Norinda, adding that from January to May, global air freight had increased 37 percent compared with the same period last year. He said eight cargo airlines were operating in Cambodia.
Kaing Monika, deputy secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, said the presence of Etihad Cargo would benefit from the rise of all exports, not just garments and footwear. “I think the airline is seizing the opportunity of a general increase in trade between Cambodia and the world, not specific to the garment and footwear industries only. Our main mode of transport would still be by sea,” he said. “However, with small order lots of fast fashion, export by air might be the trend as lead time has become considerably shorter.”
The presence of Etihad in Cambodia shows another option for airlines from Arab countries which are facing a political crisis with Qatar. The United Arab Emirates, along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, cut ties with the tiny Gulf state last Monday over what they say is Qatar’s support for terrorism, an accusation Qatar vehemently denies. Last Tuesday, Saudi Arabia closed its airspace to Qatar Airways planes.
Phnom Penh will be Etihad Cargo’s 15th destination in Asia. The new service operates from Abu Dhabi to Phnom Penh, via Singapore, on an Airbus A330F with a payload of 64 tonnes. Etihad Cargo recorded its busiest month ever in October, uplifting 53,785 tonnes of cargo and surpassing its previous best, achieved in November 2014, by 501 tonnes.