Airbus presented at the end of last week the Airbus A220 in Cambodia, estimating that the aircraft is ideal to connect the Kingdom to the rest of the world. But is there any Cambodian airline with financial capabilities to purchase the aircraft?
European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is touring Asia-Pacific to present the new Airbus A220 and Phnom Penh was the only stop in Southeast Asia. The aircraft was previously known as Bombardier C-Series until the company was bought by Airbus and the aircraft renamed A220. The aircraft helps expanding the Airbus single-aisle family to cover the 100-150 seat segment – and respond to a worldwide market demand for smaller single-aisle jetliners.
The aircraft offers plenty of advantages for airlines looking at purchasing the aircraft. The engines feature 20% lower fuel burn per seat than previous-generation aircraft, half the noise footprint, and decreased emissions. The cabin offers superior comfort for passengers as it has been designed to deliver the feel of a wide-body jetliner in a single-aisle aircraft.
The cabin provides space where it matters the most, such as large stowage capacity for overhead bins, extra-large windows providing an optimal viewing angle and wide seats -18 inches or 45.7 cm at least.
In front of representatives of six airlines gathered at Phnom Penh International Airport, Connor Buott, Airbus senior analyst explained the A220 aircraft is garnering interest from Cambodian airlines.
According to the Khmer Times, “we see a lot of opportunities in Cambodia because of its location. From here, you can connect to the Middle East, to all of Asia and Australia. We see opportunities here because the new aircraft is smaller but can fly longer than other aircraft the same size. We see opportunities for this type of aircraft to fly to Australia, Middle East and even as far as Tokyo in Japan,” told Connor Buott.
According to Airbus, the A220 is capable of flying non-stop for up to 6,300 kilometres, offering a range capability that allows non-stop connections between Cambodia, North Asia and the Middle East.
Airbus said it has high expectations for the local aviation market where passenger traffic is projected to grow at a rate of more than seven percent per year over the next 20 years thanks to an excellent geographical position of the Kingdom and a further strong growth in tourism.
However, which airline in Cambodia would have the financial strength to acquire the aircraft? The official price tag per unit is US$81 million. National carrier Cambodia Angkor Air could be the most likely customer. However, the airline is financially struggling as it faces enormous competition from both local and foreign carriers. Recently, Vietnam Airlines announced of looking at withdrawing from the joint-venture with the Cambodian government as the airline has been a drag on the Vietnamese carrier’s finances. Other airlines -all owned by Chinese investors- are more interested by developing flights between Cambodia and Mainland China rather than expanding the international network of their Cambodian affiliate.