Aviation article(s)
October 3, 2017

Cambodia’s economic growth is helping to boost cargo traffic at the country’s primary freight-handling gateway.


According to the International Monetary Fund, Cambodia’s GDP is estimated to grow by about 7% in 2017. Similarly, the Asian Development Bank predicts that the country’s GDP will expand by 7.1% for both 2017 and 2018, making it the second-fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia after Myanmar.


At the same time, cargo activities at Phnom Penh International Airport experienced remarkable growth during the first 8 months in 2017, having increased by 34.5% year-on-year to a total volume of 41,000 tonnes.


“It is mainly outbound freight to Europe and the US that has contributed to the growth, with the majority of it consisting of garments and footwear,” says Chloé Lapeyre, general manager of Phnom Penh International Airport. “On the other hand, imports include garments, electrical components and machines, as well as pharmaceuticals.”


According to Lapeyre, the airport has seen an acceleration of the demand-supply dynamics over the past year.


“The increase in air freight has been driven by growing demand, which in turn has provided market opportunities to cargo carriers, from one to about seven in just one year’s time,” she says. “And as there have been more flights and better services, air cargo has gained more market share.”


Over the past year and a half, a number of major players have entered the Cambodian market with main-deck capacity, after Cathay Pacific became the lone freighter operator in November 2014.


In April 2016, Malaysian carrier Raya Airways started flying a Boeing 727-200F from Kuala Lumpur twice a week, and Emirates SkyCargo began a weekly 777F service from Dubai. 


Turkish Cargo commenced freighter operations in Phnom Penh in May 2016 and now serves the Cambodian capital with an Airbus A330-200F twice a week.


AirBridgeCargo launched a once-weekly 747 freighter service via Singapore in July 2016, and a month later, DHL Express started a five-times-weekly 737-400F flight operated by K-Mile Air between Bangkok and Phnom Penh.


Most recently, Qatar Airways added to the bellyhold capacity on its daily A330-200 passenger flight to and from Phnom Penh via Ho Chi Minh City with a weekly A330-200F service from Doha in April 2017, while Etihad Cargo launched a weekly freighter service between Abu Dhabi and Phnom Penh in June 2017, using an Airbus A330-200F routed via Singapore on the eastbound leg.


Almost all of the carriers have specifically mentioned the garment and footwear industries, which account for the overwhelming majority of Cambodia’s exports.


Lapeyre says that a detailed study will need to be carried out to assess the correlation between the rise of e-commerce and the growth of air cargo at the airport, but for now she will focus on the continuous improvement of handling technologies and the training of staff to keep delivering the right services to carriers as well as other stakeholders of the supply chain. Further air cargo opportunities and future trends will also need to be identified so that the airport can plan its infrastructure accordingly.


“At this point and in the short term, Phnom Penh International Airport has enough space to cope with cargo growth, with some capacity upgrade already ongoing through process streamlining and additional facilities,” she says. “In the future, further cargo terminal facilities developments will be envisaged, should the growth remain intense.”



By Jeffrey Lee

Asia Cargo News | Hong Kong

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