Cambodia, Vietnam Airlines launch Cambodia Angkor Air Cambodia’s national airline

Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 6:33 by Aviation Correspondent

Cambodia launched it new national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air, on July 27, 2009. Royal Air Cambodge, Cambodia’s last national carrier, a joint venture with Malaysia Helicopter Services, shut shop in 2001 after incurring losses of $30 million.

Cambodia Angkor Air is a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Vietnam airlines and will be used to promote tourism in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen said during the launch ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport.

The Cambodian government will have 51 per cent stake in the joint venture while the rest will be held by Vietnam airlines in the $100-million, 3-aircraft venture setup.

Cambodia Angkor Air will initially commence its services using 2 ATR 72 planes and will acquire an Airbus A321, by September 2009.

During the launch ceremony, Vietnam’s deputy Prime Minister, Truong Vinh Trong, said that the “airline was not just a rare joint investment, but a way to “improve the two Asian neighbor’s bilateral relations.”

“We are looking to expand commercial flights to Vietnam and another neighboring country, Laos, and hoped to increase its fleet to 10 by 2015,” said Vietnam Airlines Executive Director Pham Ngoc Minh.

“Cambodia Angkor Air, which has capitalization of 100 million dollars, will officially begin flights on Tuesday, traveling to tourist hub Siem Reap and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City,”  Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said.

Sok An also said that Cambodia would provide the infrastructure and office premises for the venture, but the government “will be not responsible for any loss and debt.”

The Cambodian and Vietnamese officials then flew to the Sihanoukville and Siem Reap resorts after the launch ceremony to visit the famous Angkor Wat Temples.

Tourism is a major source of foreign exchange for Cambodia comprising 12 per cent of Cambodia’s GDP, in 2008.

The Kingdom of Cambodia aims at bringing in 3 million tourists annually by the end of 2010.