Airfreight expanded markedly in 2018: Aviation body
THE volume of cargo transported by air in the Kingdom increased by 80,000 tonnes last year, a hike of between 20 to 25 percent year-on-year, according to an official from the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA).
Chea Aun, a spokesperson for the aviation body, told Khmer Times that 2018 was a great year in terms of airfreight growth.
“There was big growth in the sector. However, it was mostly concentrated in Phnom Penh International Airport, followed by the airports in Sihanoukville and Siem Reap,” Mr Aun said.
A lot of that growth was driven by demand in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) – home to hundreds of companies with export operations – in Preah Sihanouk province.
“SEZs in Preah Sihanouk have been an important factor in this expansion. Garments, electronic, and agriculture products account for the bulk of these shipments,” Mr Aun explained.
A recent report from SSCA noted that from January to November there was an increase of nearly 69,000 tonnes of airfreight compared to the same period in 2017, amounting to a 16 percent rise. Most of that growth took place in the international airports of Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
Sin Chanthy, president of the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association (CAMFFA), told Khmer Times that the strongest growth was seen during the peak season for the sector, usually February or March.
He added that during these months, cargo space in aircraft is scarce.
“One of the main challenges for us is that during the peak season it’s hard to find space in aircraft to carry our products since few airlines operating in Cambodia offer this service,” he said.
While a container can be shipped to the European Union or the United States by just $4,000 to $5,000 by sea, the cost of transporting the same amount of goods by aircraft can reach $50,000, he added.
“Sea transport continues to be the first choice for exporters, while trucking is number two. The air option, with its high costs, is often used when the shipment is urgent,” Mr Chanthy said.
Mao Havanall, the newly appointed Minister of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, recently said that the local aviation sector has grown remarkably thanks to the government’s open sky policy, implemented since 1999.
He added that due to the modernisation of the air traffic management system, the upgrading of airport facilities across the country and the strengthening of regulation in the sector, passengers and cargo numbers have risen dramatically in recent years.
Mr Havanall pointed out that 10.4 million passengers used a Cambodian airport in 2018, an impressive increase from a decade earlier, when only 620,000 people were passing through a local airport each year.
“On top of this, we have signed air transport agreements with 44 countries across the globe, and 47 airlines are flying in and out of Cambodia,” he added. –
Aircraft in the tarmac at Phnom Penh International Airport.