Local Carriers Facing Fight For Flights To China

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Cambodia Angkor Air, the Kingdom’s national flag carrier, launched a new route linking Sihanoukville with Macau on Tuesday. Cambodia’s four airlines are all vying for a share of the Chinese market.

Capturing a slice of the burgeoning Chinese market remains the current focus for all four of Cambodia’s local airlines – Cambodia Angkor Air, Sky Angkor Airlines, Cambodia Bayon Airlines and Bassaka Air – although they will face stiff competition from the 10 more-established international carriers that already provide flight links between the Kingdom and China, according to a new report from Australia-based aviation research and consulting firm Centre for Aviation (CAPA).

“Cambodia may not be able to support more than four local airlines over the long term,” stated the CAPA report. “The four existing airlines, none of which operate more than seven aircraft, lack the scale to compete effectively with foreign airlines, and the proposed start-ups will face similar challenges if they succeed at launching services. Chinese airlines have the scale and distribution network in China to outmuscle small foreign competitors. They also have the flexibility to redeploy aircraft in other markets, should China-Cambodia demand slow.”

Since 2009, air passenger traffic between Cambodia and China has experienced double-digit growth and now accounts for around 20 percent of the Kingdom’s international scheduled seats. CAPA research found that the four Cambodian carriers presently boast a combined fleet of 17 aircraft, with Bayon is expected to add two A320 passenger jets this year and Bassaka planning to secure their third A320 and set up more flights to China. Cambodia Angkor Air launched a direct service between Macau and Sihanoukville on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two Cambodian newcomers owned by Chinese investors are expected to launch services to the People’s Republic. JC International, with two A320s, is touted to begin operations in the coming weeks, and Lan Mei Airlines expects to get flights running by the end of the year.

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