After one year of domestic flight operations, Royal Phnom Penh Airways has launched international flight services between Phnom Penh and Bangkok, making it the second Cambodian airline operating that route along with Royal Air Cambodge.
Royal Phnom Penh Airways, owned by Prince Norodom Chakrapong, the son of King Norodom Sihanouk and half-brother of National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said Monday that he flew the airline’s inaugural flight on that route Thursday in a 100-seat YAK 43D leased by a Russian aircraft producer.
The airline will fly that route three times a week, but would add more flights if demand increases, said Kong Sambath, the airline’s commercial and marketing director.
The $84 one-way fare in economy class and $140 round-trip is cheaper than what competitors RAC, Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways charge, Kong Sambath said.
“We plan to expand our operations more to international destinations,” he said.
Although three airlines are already competing on the Phnom Penh to Bangkok route, there are not enough flights to carry an increasing number of tourists, Kong Sambath said.
Royal Phnom Penh Airways first took off in October 1999, operating flights between the capital and major provincial towns.
The airline now has more than 170 Cambodian workers, including cabin crew, as well as five Russian engineers, airline officials said.
Prince Chakrapong said his airline would launch Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh flights in the middle of this month, and plans to add flights to China and Singapore in the near future.
The prince gave up politics and became an aviation entrepreneur after his return to Cambodia in early 1999. He fled the country in 1994 following his involvement in an alleged aborted coup d’etat. He was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison at that time, but pardoned by King Sihanouk in 1999.