With air-freight volumes in and out of Cambodia on the up, it is no surprise that a new local cargo airline is getting ready to take off.
The new cargo airline, Phnom Penh Air Cargo Co, is supported by a company in China and is now in the process of applying for its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the authorities in Cambodia. Phnom Penh Air Cargo Co has been created using $30m of registered capital. It will begin with a 737 freight plane and plans to eventually operate between 3 – 6 aircraft in total.
Volumes of air-freight increasing
Data provided by the airport in Cambodia shows that the volumes of air-freight going backwards and forwards reached 41,104 tonnes between 2015 and 2016 which was a rise of some 13%. This followed a similar increase in 2014/2015. This is possibly due to a large increase in exports from their clothing market; the Phnom Penh airport experienced a 22.5% increase in 2016, with imports increasing by just 3.7%. However, this should be judged in relation to the 2015 import figures which displayed a 21% increase. Half of Cambodia’s air-freight volumes are made up of imports; in 2016 the Phnom Penh Airport dealt with 19306 tonnes of imports and 21798 of exports. Most of the imports come from China with the rest made up of products from South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand.
The majority of the exports from Cambodia are textile related and currently, stand at 70% of the country’s total which includes such things as vehicles and footwear. The country mainly exports to the USA, Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong, Canada and the UK but the new airline will concentrate on flying into Nanning, China which is in the South close to Vietnam. They will also provide onward flights to ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which is a regional organisation made up of ten South-east Asian states.
The first local cargo airline since 2008
There are already several freight airlines operating within Cambodia with Emirates, Raya, K-Mile, Cathay and AirBridgeCargo already operational.
“If Phnom Penh Air Cargo receives an AOC it will be the first local cargo airline since 2008,” said Keo Sivorn, Director-General of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA). He stated that the new airline would possibly look at putting contracts in place with local exporters for regular air-freight shipments, particularly involving textiles and agricultural produce which is very time-sensitive.
The last Cambodian cargo carrier was in 2008 and was Russian-owned Imtrec Aviation. It shut down when its AOC was revoked after the crash in 2007 involving one of their older cargo planes, the Antonov AN-12s. Whilst carrying a shipment of clothes to Singapore it crashed in bad weather, ending up in a rice paddy. Its licence was removed when it was not able to meet the safety requirements set by the UN’s ICAO. As a result, the 1960’s Antonovs were declared unfit to fly.
A spokesman from Cambodia Airports stated that cargo activity shot up in 2016 by 19% to 45000 tones. “The performance reflects the country’s economic dynamism combined with an increasing demand for air cargo, which resulted in more freight carriers operating in Cambodia,” he said.