Cambodia popular for airline launches

PHNOM PENH, 10 April 2018: With seven airlines operating services, news that two more will gain their wings late this year or by early 2019, surprised the travel industry.

The two new joint Cambodian-Chinese airline ventures are poised to gain government approval according to a report in the Phnom Penh Post Monday.

There are already two Chinese funded airlines operating in the country Lanmei and JC International.

According to government statements, MJ Airlines and Domrey Angkor Airlines have applied for an air operators certificate (AOC) required to operate an aircraft in the country.

The Phnom Penh Post quoted Sin Chanserey Vutha, a spokesman at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation.

Based on their applications, MJ Airlines will operate at at the end of this year and Domrey Angkor Airlines plans its first services in early 2019.

Both airlines will serve the growing inbound travel market from China, mainly group tour business sold by Chinese travel companies. They buy seat allotments directly from the airlines so there are no seat sales in the open market.

Earlier news reports from Cambodia suggested more airlines were likely to gain AOC approval this year. One was identified as Prince International and another Air Siem Reap.

Aviation experts are already surprised that the country has seven airlines claiming  the market probably can sustain no more than five airlines.

The latest filings for AOC suggest another  four companies are still waiting for AOC approval for various kinds of airline services.

Commenting on the crowded aviation market, the Phnom Penh Post quoted Chanserey Vutha who admitted it was “a bit crowded” but claimed competition would give more options for travellers.

There are now seven airlines in Cambodia, together operating a combined fleet of 30 aircraft. Four years ago, only two airlines operated in the kingdom.

Cambodia’s commercial jet fleet will likely reach 40 aircraft by the end of 2018.

Government requirements call for airlines to have a capital investment of USD 20 to USD 30 million for the first three years, excluding aircraft investment and must employ at least 100 staff.