The Cambodian government continues to solicit investment from foreign companies, particularly in China, to establish start-up carriers beyond the nine that already operate in the kingdom. According to Cambodia State Secretariat for Civil Aviation official Sinn Chansereyutha, the country needs further transportation capital to support its growing tourism industry.
The nine existing airlines—Cambodia Airways, Cambodia Angkor Air, Sky Angkor Airlines, JC International Airlines, Lanmei Airlines, Small Planet Airlines, KC International Airlines, Bassaka Air, and Cambodia Bayon Airlines—operate a total of 40 aircraft. China-based companies hold equity stakes in Cambodia Airways, JC International, and KC International, while Chinese interests completely own Lanmei Airlines and Cambodia Bayon Airlines. Cambodia Angkor Air is a Cambodia-Vietnam Airlines joint venture while Sky Angkor Airlines is a Cambodia-Korea JV. Thai investors own Small Planet Airlines and Cambodians own Bassaka Air.
Two new carriers, MJ Cambodia Airlines and Air Siem Reap, plan to start operations in late December or early next year. Both airlines have applied for their air operating certificates.
MJ Cambodia, a Cambodian-Chinese JV, will concentrate on low-fare services based at Phnom Penh International Airport. Its network plans center on Southeast Asia and secondary points in China.
Air Siem Reap, a joint venture between Bangkok Airways and Cambodian investors, plans to base its operations in Siem Reap and operate routes between Thailand and Cambodia.
A developing country with a population of 17 million, Cambodia cannot depend on local capital and requires foreign investors for its aviation market, said Chansereyuthu.
“The majority of Cambodian companies do not have the financing to set up an airline alone as the investment required is massive,” Chasereyutha noted.
Cambodian law requires new airlines to invest between $20 million and $30 million and hire 100 staff members during the first three years in business. The investment requirement does not include aircraft.