Sunday, 30 January 2011 19:14 Soeun Say and Jeremy Mullins
Cambodia Angkor Air is set to schedule flights from Siem Reap to Bangkok this year, bringing competition to a route presently flown by only one carrier – Bangkok Airways.
After acquiring two new Airbus aircraft, which are set to arrive in the middle of this year, Cambodia Angkor Air will use the planes to service the Thai capital along with two other destinations, according to Say Sokhan, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation adviser to the Council of Ministers.
“According to the plan we will fly three new routes this year – Siem Reap to Bangkok, Siem Reap to Seoul and Siem Reap to Singapore,” he said.
Prices for the new routes have not yet been set, according to Say Sokhan, but CAA will compete directly with Bangkok Airways on its Thai route.
CAA is said to be 51 percent government owned, with 49 percent held by Vietnam Airlines.
“This is the free market,” said Say Sokhan. “Competition must have reasonable prices and service quality. So if someone does it better, they will choose [that airline].”
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said he welcomed the new flights, adding that competition would likely lower fares on the Siem Reap to Bangkok route.
Through the private sector working groups “we have been asking [Bangkok Airways] to consider the airfare between Siem Reap and Bangkok, but have not been so successful”, he said. “Competition will be better than negotiations.”
Although Bangkok Airways officials did not return request for comment last week, fares posted on its website for Siem Reap to Bangkok are often higher than its Phnom Penh to Bangkok flights.
Today, a one-way direct flight with the airline from Siem Reap to Bangkok was advertised on its website at US$160 for February 9, compared with $114 for a similar ticket from Phnom Penh to Bangkok – a route which several airlines, including AirAsia and Thai Airways, fly.
Bangkok Airways is the only airline flying regularly scheduled passenger flights between Siem Reap and Bangkok, according to the Cambodia International Airports website.
The latest direct flights join an increasing number of regional links.
Cambodia and Myanmar officials have signed a deal to begin direct flights between the two nations in February.