China fuels Cambodia’s airline growth
The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation says Cambodia’s aviation market grew briskly for the second consecutive year as national and foreign airlines added routes to China amid a surge in Chinese nationals visiting the country.
The centre reported Cambodia has emerged as one of the fastest growing markets in Southeast Asia, recording 18% passenger growth for the second consecutive year in 2013.
Cambodia’s three commercial airports — Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville– handled 5.1 million passengers in 2013, representing an 18% increase over the 4.3 million passengers handled in 2012, based on figures from Cambodia Airports.
The Cambodian market also recorded 18% growth in 2012, which followed 13% growth in 2011 and 14% growth in 2010.
“Continued expansion at flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air, which has tripled the size of its still relatively small international network over the past 18 months, should lead to more rapid growth in 2014.”
There will also be continued growth from foreign carriers, including from six carriers which entered the market in the fourth quarter 2013. But there is a threat of political instability potentially dampening demand, the report said.
The Cambodian market has almost doubled in size since 2009. But the growth comes from a relatively small base and after declines in 2008 and 2009, when Cambodia was significantly impacted by the global financial crisis.
The report notes China emerges as the biggest growth driver for Cambodia’s aviation market.
“European traffic, which mainly reaches Cambodia via Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh, has recovered. But the biggest driver of growth over the past two years has been Asian markets, particularly China and Vietnam.”
Based on Cambodia Ministry of Tourism data for the first 11 months of 2013, visitor arrivals from China were up 40% to 417,000. China now accounts for 11% of visitor arrivals.
China visitor arrivals have quadrupled since 2009. In 2009 Cambodia recorded only 128,000 Chinese visitors for the full year, accounting for 6% of the total.
Europe back in 2009 accounted for 37% of all visitors to Cambodia. In the first 11 months of 2013 Europe accounted for 16% of total visitor arrivals.
Although China will almost certainly overtake Europe within the next couple of years as a larger source market, arrivals from Europe are again increasing. In the first 11 months of 2013 European arrivals increased by 15% to 617,000. France, the UK and Germany are the main European source markets.
Local carrier Cambodia Angkor Air has been keen to capitalize on the boost in Chinese visitors launched a new Siem Reap to Fuzhou three weekly services on 1 February.
All five of Cambodia Angkor Air’s other China routes are also currently served with three weekly flights except Guangzhou-Siem Reap, which is served daily according to OAG data. Cambodia Angkor Air also has launched some charter routes to China over the last year, including to Xiamen.
A second smaller Cambodian carrier, SkyWings Asia Airlines, also operates some charters to China but focuses primarily on the Cambodia-Korea market with scheduled A320 flights from Siem Reap to Seoul and Busan. SkyWings, which is registered in Cambodia but based in Seoul, also serves the Siem Reap-Hanoi route.
Total scheduled capacity from Cambodia to China has increased by more than 50% over the last year, according to CAPA and OAG data.
Total one-way capacity between the two countries in the first half of 2014 will fluctuate between about 10,000 and 13,000 weekly one-way seats (the market is highly seasonal).
Cambodia Angkor Air will capture an estimated 19% share of the scheduled Cambodia-China market in April this year, up from about 14% currently and zero just a few months ago.
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