Surprise, Surprise: Another Airline for Cambodia!

Cambodia has a traffic of only 7 million passengers a year, one of the smallest in size in Southeast Asia – to be compared to 128 to 130 million passengers in neighbouring Thailand or 122 million in Malaysia-. However, the Kingdom has as much local carriers than Thailand! Five carriers are registered in the Kingdom.

The latest one is JC International Airlines and surprise, surprise, it is… a Chinese carrier. The airline is partly owned by Yunnan Jingcheng Group, a Chinese conglomerate and is registered as a local Phnom Penh-bases company with an initial investment of US$50 million. Tong Lecheng is the chairman and founder, while Dongyan Huang serves as the CEO. Both are Chinese citizens.

CEO Dongyan Huang indicated to Chinese news agency Xinhua that the airline has two Airbus 320 aircraft and is serving initally daily flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap as well as Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Ms. Huang said JC International Airlines would first open and serve the domestic market, but would soon expand routes to include Asean member states and China – Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong – as well as South Korea, Japan and one day Europe.

“We love Cambodia since we found that Cambodia has good political and economic stability while they are improving remarkably in the aviation sector,” declared the airline’s CEO. “We want to contribute to this sector so we will import new technology from China to Cambodia to make it better and modern.” The unconditional support of Cambodia for the Chinese government -which in return translates into massive investments by Chinese companies- is probably a major element to Yunnan Jingcheng Group to invest into air transport in Cambodia.

Financial viability for the new carrier can however be doubt due to the low level of passengers flying and the highly competitive aviation market in Cambodia. Beside the fiove local carriers, Cambodia’s two main international gateways -Phnom Penh and Siem Reap- are served by some twenty international airlines.

By the end of 2017, JC International Airlines will add three additional aircraft to serve the demand in the Kingdom, added Ms. Huang.

Mao Havannall, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, welcomed the move, declaring to Xinhua that air transport plays a vital role in the world economy and remains one of the fastest-growing industries and that Cambodia has seen remarkable growth of its aviation industry.

So Mara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism, welcomed JC International Airlines to the kingdom, saying the ministry would provide strong support to the airline in order to contribute to the growth of the tourism industry in Cambodia.
He said the tourism sector has generated more than $3 billion to national revenue, contributed about 12 percent to GDP and created more than 620,000 jobs as well as many others indirectly.
“The 2.7 million international tourists arriving by air account for more than 54 percent of total arrivals, an increase of around 9.2 percent. The airlines and airports play a vital role in this sector,” Mr. Mara said.

(Partial source: Xinhua)