MJ Airlines aborts launch

PHNOM PENH, 8 May 2019: Cambodia’s MJ Airlines appears to have suspended its launch plan for now after failing to inaugurate flights during the first quarter of the year.

The start-up airline, a joint venture between Cambodian and Chinese investors, was supposed to establish its first service by April and then ultimately link its domestic network to cities in China.

On Monday the Phnom Penh Post said the Cambodian airline was “experiencing lay-offs as the firm failed to launch its first commercial flight following tough competition.”

But the story disappeared from the news site on Tuesday morning and a search showed its latest news on MJ Airlines was dated 9 April 2018.

The Phnom Penh Post quoted the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation spokesman Sinn Chanserey Vutha who claimed the start-up airline had “come to terms with the grim reality of the highly competitive Cambodian market.”

According to the report  “the market is facing tough competition. It is not the ideal time for the firm to speed up its operations. So, it’ll slow down for a while.”

Last year, the airline applied for certification, which was apparently completed in January giving it clearance to operate three A320s on scheduled flights connecting Cambodia with destinations throughout Southeast Asia and second-tier cities in China.

Regardless of the airline’s legal or financial status, its website is inactive providing just a single landing page with a blank booking engine lacking any details of flights or schedules. There is minimal information on the airline, no indicators of a launch or contact details for executives and no booking mechanism to sell tickets to the public or the travel trade.

According to a short news item on the website posted last January it was looking at an early 2019 launch date.

On its website under the “about us,” tag Cambodia MJ Airlines calls itself a “new gen airline that flies new routes, bringing more tourists to experience the unique attractions offered by the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

The airline still has an office at Phnom Penh Pochentong International Airport (PNH). It will remain to be seen if it recoups and returns with a new launch plan following talks with the civil aviation authorities.

Aviation sources in Cambodia told TTR Weekly the airline could serve the China holiday market through charters to gain a toe-hold in Cambodia’s highly competitive aviation market.