New Airline Launches China-Cambodia Route

Cambodia Bayon Airlines launched its inaugural flight from China to Phnom Penh on Tuesday, becoming the latest Cambodian airline to tap into the Chinese market, with plans to start direct domestic flights later this month.

The MA60 aircraft departed from the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province at 9 a.m. local time and arrived in Phnom Penh at 8:20 p.m. after an unscheduled stop in Siem Reap to refuel, according to Keo Sivorn, director-general of Cambodia’s aviation authority.

“The Bayon Airlines plane flew from…China to Phnom Penh for a flight demonstration, but due to its gasoline nearly running out it needed to land in Siem Reap to get more gasoline there in order to avoid any problems,” Mr. Sivorn said.

The flight comes four months after Bayon, a subsidiary of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, launched in Cambodia with the aim of cashing in on the growing number of Chinese visitors.

The firm’s launch follows that of the Chinese-backed Cambodian airline Apsara International Air, which began domestic flights in October, and Bassaka Air, which launched its Cambodia-Macau flights the same month.

Bayon is due to perform a domestic test flight this month. If successful, the airline will be granted an aircraft operating license to fly in Cambodian airspace, according to Mr. Sivorn and the company.

“The MA60 aircraft operating license…is expected to be obtained by the end of this month allowing [Bayon] to officially operate within Cambodian airspace,” the company said in a statement released Tuesday.

Along with Apsara Air, Bayon’s domestic presence will compete with Cambodia Angkor Air, which the Sydney-based Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation previously said was enjoying a monopoly causing unduly high fares.

Mr. Sivorn said the increase in domestic flights would lead to a healthier industry.

“Airline companies in the domestic flight industry will need to improve their competitiveness by offering better prices and services,” he said.

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