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Market Analysis

Cambodian Aviation Ushers Into A New Era Of Market Competition

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The throughput of the three airports in Cambodia is increasing at a rate of 20% per year, but compared with other countries in the Southeast Asia region, there is still much room for development. In the near future, Cambodia will plan a series of new airports, while airlines are actually a capital-intensive, specialised, high-input, low-return industry. The greatest benefit that this industry can bring to investors is not from the airlines themselves, but from the facilitations and synergies of other industries. Therefore, the investment enthusiasm of private capital for the aviation industry has never been reduced. In Southeast Asia, $20 million for funding guarantee might just be entry-level.


Fleet Overview Of Operating Airlines In Cambodia:


A319-100 A320-200 A321-200 ATR 72-500 Total
Lanmei Airlines 1 4 2
7
JC International Airlines
5

5
Sky Angkor Airlines
3 2
5
Cambodia Angkor Airlines
2 2 3 7
Cambodia Airways 3 2

5
Bassaka Air
2

2

Established in March 2016, Lanmei Airlines is currently the largest player in the Cambodian aviation market and is also expanding rapidly. Since its first flight on September 29, 2017, its operation time has been merely two years.

Recently, Lanmei Airlines participated in a cooperation with Philippine Airlines and put one of the aircrafts into operation in the Philippine market. This layout has brought certain imagination to Lanmei’s future development and has indeed brought some pressure to competitors in the industry.

Lanmei Airlines A320
Lanmei Airlines A320

With a fleet size of seven aircraft, Lanmei Airlines is now firmly in Cambodia’s largest airline.

Lanmei Airlines can be considered as Cambodia’s most market-oriented airline. The head of the company owns important positions in state-owned enterprises and private aviation companies. The decision-making process of Lanmei is short and flat. The company’s general direction is clear, and the grass-roots execution is strong. With the goal of developing the market, Lanmei Airlines looks like a perpetual motion machine. The pace of progress has never stopped, not even a short rest.

In 2019, Lanmei Airlines announced that it would realise full-year profit. Lanmei Airlines also registered South Asia Maintenance Company, Lanmei Foods Company and Lanmei Express (mainly express transportation business, currently opened parcel express business from China to Cambodia, Palau), Lanmei’s layout in the upstream and downstream of the industry chain is extremely clear.


JC International Airlines was registered in June 2014, and its preparatory work began in the second half of 2016, making JC Airlines’ operation start half a year earlier than Lanmei Airlines. After more than two years of precipitation, JC has gradually entered a period of steady development. 

JC International Airlines
JC International Airlines

Earlier this July, although in the face of delays in adding new capacity, seven new routes were opened to maximise revenue during this peak season. The main source of profit for JC Airlines comes from the Phnom Penh – Preah Sihanouk route. 


Before the establishment of Lanmei and JC, the hegemony of the Sino-Cambodian tourism market was actually the now little known Sky Angkor Airlines. Sky Angkor was registered in 2010 and is a well-established local cost carrier, its profitability cannot be underestimated. 

SKY ANGKOR AIRLINES
Sky Angkor Airlines

Sky Angkor had formed a good cooperative relationship with its partners in Europe and Vietnam earlier. By taking advantage of the differences between peak seasons of Cambodia, Europe and Vietnam, Sky Angkor was able to deploy cheaply wet-leased European aircrafts in winter and Spring to the Cambodian market. Thus, Sky Angkor can reach maximum capacity of 9 airplanes in Winter and Spring, and only 2 airplanes were kept during the low season in rest of the year. This business model has greatly enhanced Sky Angkor’s profitability. At the same time, its founder’s Korean background also allowed Sky Angkor to show its pioneering ability in the Korean market that is different from other companies. Before Chinese tourist s occupied Angkor Wat, South Korea was the main source country of tourism for Siem Reap. 

Since the entry of Lanmei and JC, two aggressive market expansion carriers, have intervened in the China-Cambodia market, Sky Angkor’s heyday is gone, and its market share has been nibbled away quite a bit. However, due to its early entry into the Chinese market, it has a first-mover advantage and has a lot of time slot resources for first- and second-tier airports in China. Although the Siem Reap market took a lot of pressure in 2018, its took on “changing Siem Reap to Preah Sihanouk” strategy in 2019, helped them guarded the market once again.


There are also two “Que Sera Sera” operators on the sky in Cambodia: Cambodia Angkor Air and Cambodia Airways, of which both are flag carriers of the country. 

This year is the tenth year of Angkor Air operations. Its most important capital source, Vietnam Airlines, has imposed severe restrictions on the development of Angkor Air due to concerns that the rise of the Cambodian market will affect the construction of the parent company’s hub in Ho Chi Minh city.

Cambodia Angkor Air A321
Cambodia Angkor Air A321

As an airline that is about to be established for ten years, Angkor Air has only two A320 series medium-sized passenger aircrafts. It operates Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanning, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou and other mainland Chinese destinations and Ho Chi Minh.

This year, Angkor Airlines opened two new routes, Phnom Penh – Preah Sihanouk and Phnom Penh – Macau, which can be regarded as a breakthrough in recent years. At the same time, following the footsteps of the majority of Cambodian airlines, changing some mainland China to Cambodia routes from Siem Reap to Preah Sihanouk.

Cambodia Angkor Air ATR-72-500
Cambodia Angkor Air ATR-72-500

The Cambodian government has always criticised the lack of development of Angkor Air’s expansion, but it has no capability to strengthen the airline’s capital base, so the government can only temporarily allow foreign investment to gallop. This also explains why the Cambodian government is relatively laissez-faire on foreign-invested airlines. Perhaps they are looking forward to the emergence of an airline that can truly represent the image of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Cambodia Airways A320
Cambodia Airways A320

Bassaka Air, established on October 6, 2014, is a Cambodian airline initially backed by Air China. It made its first domestic flight on December 1, 2014, and its international flight first operated on May 1, 2015. The airline is invested by Naga World Golden Circle Group.


2018 was a sad year for the Cambodian civil aviation industry, but it gave a shot to the six airlines that are still flying in the Cambodian sky.

Beginning in October 2018, KC International Airlines, Small Planet Airlines, and Bayon Airlines all stopped flying. For a short while, the Cambodian aviation industry ushered in a comprehensive reshuffle. The nine companies that had been in operation were sharply reduced to five, which greatly released the competitive pressure.

  • KC International Airlines, established on July 2, 2018, has been full of legends since its inception. During the preparation process, at least three sets of management teams have been replaced. After the company first obtained the AOC(Air Operations Certificate), the actual number of days of operation did not exceed 60 days, which is very typical of Cambodia’s airlines in the last era. 
KC International Airlines
KC International Airlines
  • Little Planet’s European parent company is a long-term partner of Sky Angkor and one of the main suppliers of wet-leasing aircraft to airlines in the Indochina Peninsula. In December 2017, Little Planet Airlines officially launched its inaugural flight. It stably operated charter flights from Macau to the ASEAN region, and continued to wet lease aircrafts to Sky Angkor and Vietnam Airlines.
Small Planet Airlines 320
Small Planet Airlines 320
  • Bayon Airlines, established on August 21, 2014, is an airline based in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The airline was reinvested and established by the Chinese Joy Air.

Cambodia Bayon Airlines
Cambodia Bayon Airlines

Also Worth Noting:

  • In April 2012, Cambodia Airlines was established. Cambodia Airlines is an airline operated by Royal Group in cooperation with Philippine capital PAL Holding;
  • In November 2015, Phonm Penh Air Cargo was established;
  • In February 2017, Air Siem Reap was established;
  • In February 2018, Domrey Angkor Airline was established. The capital was backed by the owner of the Angkor Elephant Travel Agency based Siem Reap.
  • In June 2018, CC International Aviation Airlines was established. Except for the main air transportation business, the company’s application scope covers almost all aircraft maintenance-related business projects;
  • In March 2019, Maritime Airlines and Damei Airline were incorporated. Maritime Airlines is part of the Cambodian Maritime Group. The owner of the group is Lord HENG SITHY, whose industries include real estate development, resort development and mining. Damei Airline has a Chinese background as a replacement, and its public shareholders are from China.

Albert K. Field Albert is my name, and travel the world is my game. I began my passion for travel at a very young age, I started this website as a strong means to further explore the world of frequent flyers programs (FFP). The relationship between customers and service providers in the aviation and hospitality industry always seems to be in opposition, however, since the introduction of United Airlines’ Frequent Flyers Programm since 1972*. This has significantly eased the middle spectrum between 2 parties. While the aim of airlines is still to generate more revenue; but for us,as consumers, are also given the opportunity to participate in the bargaining and exploiting from service providers. Living in a world of globalization where big data becomes vital for simulating successful economical activities, most of us will have to travel to other locations whether willingly or unwillingly, while you hearing all this fascinating stories about others, In fact, you too, can blend into the trend. It may not sound like how media illustrates, but indeed there are possibilities for us to have more spontaneous travel without getting held back by financial situation. My website consists of reviews of airline premium cabin products,airport lounges and stay reports of 5-star hotels and their executive lounges across the globe. In addition to all of that, I care the most about their frequent flyers program and loyalty program, which also includes banking partners. Plus, I spontaneously put up reviews and news update regarding premium water brands and restaurants. The purpose of this website is to share all of this information with my audience as well as inviting you to be part of my journey.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Julie

    February 24, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    Interesting, in Europe, we dont hear much about it, but it looks like there’s tons of Chinese capital involved here

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Market Analysis

NAP – Former SAS Director’s Vision Of A Consolidated Nordic Airlines Bloc

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Nordic Airline Platform Cover

The Norwegian government on the 19th March agreed to save struggling airlines in the country with a loan guarantee of NOK 6 billion. Norwegian aviation is in crisis as a result of the COVID-19 virus outbreak. SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe have all canceled thousands of departures and laid off over 18,000 employees. The loan guarantees come with a number of conditions and are distributed to airlines as follows:

  • Norwegian can access 3 billion
  • SAS 1.5 billion
  • Other companies NOK 1.5 billion
Norwegian B737 SE-RRY
Norwegian B737 SE-RRY Image: HÅKON MOSVOLD LARSEN

However, the former managing director of SAS – Eivind Roald, whose current position is an adviser to Altor Equity Partners shared an interesting post 18th March on Dagens Næringsliv, a Norwegian newspaper specialising in business news, which suggested on the possibility of a consolidated Nordic airline bloc that can potentially prevent future business cycle downturns which could require government bailouts again.


The former SAS director envisioned a new Nordic airline group – NAP(Nordic Airline Platform), which should include Icelandair, SAS, Finnair and Norwegian, ” […] at least parts of Norwegian.” said by Eivind Roald.

NAP, Nordic Airline Platform, which should include Icelandair, SAS, Finnair and Norwegian, ” […] at least parts of Norwegian.” said by Eivind Roald.

” I read with amazement that some are advocating that the Norwegian state should buy shares in Norwegian in order to save the company. It is important to maintain the infrastructure was used as an argument.

Eight years ago, I sat on the SAS Group Management during the crisis in 2012. We received a clear message from all Norwegian politicians that it was not appropriate to invest one krone in SAS. If SAS were to go bankrupt, Norwegian could help maintain the infrastructure until new competition is established, it was said as a political point of view.

Now obviously this is different.

Norwegian is an international airline group which is built by a Norwegian and is headquartered in Norway. Thanks to Norway’s development and tough competition, SAS has actually survived – and all of us who have worked at SAS should thank Norwegian for putting pressure on renewing SAS.

On the other hand, there is not a good enough answer to save Norwegian in the structure the company has today. Norway’s owners and board of directors, well-praised by the Norwegian financial industry, have taken quite conscious risk through major expansion in recent years, with the result that the company has high debt and low earnings.

The company is an international group with a significant number of employees outside Norway, and most flights outside Norway’s borders. The question we then have to ask is whether it is right then to use the Norwegian taxpayers’ money to buy an international airline that primarily has its air operations in Europe and between Europe and the US.

Norwegian politicians have a responsibility to maintain the infrastructure in Norway. Airplanes are part of the infrastructure for an elongated country like Norway, no matter what some politicians may think. Competition is another important principle politicians must ensure. Today, both of these conditions require us to rethink.

The short-term solution is most likely to give all airlines – Norwegian, SAS and Widerøe – a credit access, it is only breathing aid in a difficult time. The situation should be used to look at a more long-term fundamental solution for all aviation, not only in Norway but throughout the Nordic region.

We are five small countries with four airlines of some decent size. Norwegian politicians should now approach their Nordic counterparts and take the initiative to establish a new Nordic aviation group.

The company should be structured as a holding company – Nordic Airline Platform – NAP. The Group should be established on the same principle as IAG (International Airline Group – which owns, among others, British Airways, Iberia and others) and listed on the Nordic stock exchanges.

These should be included in NAP: Icelandair, SAS, Finnair and Norwegian – at least parts of Norwegian.

NAP can be owned 51 percent by the Nordic states and 49 percent by private investors. In NAP, the individual airlines are to be organised as independent airlines – potentially also have different ownership fractions – and continue to fly under their own brand names, but “pointed” to different target groups and destinations.

The companies will also continue to be able to compete within the Nordic region as they do today.

Norway’s incorporation into such a constellation is important, but in order to achieve such a constellation, the balance in Norwegian must be restructured. No one wants to bring the debt or obligation to Norwegian into a new company.

There are probably several models for this, but to bankrupt the company could possibly be a forced way.

Knowing that a bankruptcy estate sells to the highest bidder, NAP should position itself to buy the brand Norwegian, the short-haul fleet and the respective airline slots they have at critical destinations in Europe.

Norwegian 2.0 should then be refined within NAP as a Nordic low-price competitor to companies such as Eurowings, Ryanair, Easyjet, Vueling.

SAS, Finnair and Icelandair can respectively focus on flights to the US and Asia either directly or via Iceland. In addition, they can offer a more refined business or premium concept for domestic, international and European flights.

Over time, countries can commit to selling down in NAP without losing control of aircraft as a carrier infrastructure for the countries.

In light of the green shift, such a large constellation will also have a completely different prerequisite for achieving the “electrification” of the industry than the individual companies will succeed individually.

Such ideas certainly face hundreds of questions and legal issues regarding ownership, competition and, not least, the principle that states should have ownership in airlines. But politicians and state leaders with the ability to lead in times of crisis should think outside the box.

The solution now is not to give SAS or Norwegian money – without demanding a significant restructuring of the entire industry.

We need both Norwegian and SAS, but now they are worth more together than individually.

It is in times of crisis that innovation can occur. We just have to dare to think.”

Translated from DN “Gi dem ikke penger – lag et nytt, nordisk flykonsern”


SAS & Norwegian Fleet Parked
SAS & Norwegian Fleet Parked. Image:Per Thrana

This is the most exciting industry analysis I’ve read in a long time, in difficult times like this, while most carriers are trying to survive, maybe more airlines need to think of using the circumstances as an oppotunity to innovate, to think bigger. Although how to maintain the right balance between competition and market size can be trivial to answer, I would say this could be a better future for SAS and Norwegian than letting Lufthansa to acquire SAS and IAG to acquire Norwegian. The Scandinavian aviation market is definitely the biggest, but we’ve seen the most robust activities in terms of startups based on non-conventional business modells and being successful to prove it in the Nordic regions.

SAS A350
SAS A350

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Market Analysis

Alitalia Bankruptcy Coming, Who Will Dominate The Italian Sky In The Future?

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In the past few decades, Alitalia has been relying on government subsidies to survive. In 2014, Etihad invested to acquire of 49% of Alitalia and plans to cut costs and concentrate on the development of international routes out of Rome and Milan to boost its profitability that are less concerned by low-cost airlines such as Easy Jet and Ryanair.

However, the acquisition ended with Etihad Airways’ suspension of investment and Alitalia has decided to file for bankruptcy. Afterwards, the Italian government provided a 900 million euro short-term bridge loan for Alitalia to help them maintain operations til the end of 2018. Due to the political instability in Italy’s recent general election, it is unclear whether or not Alitalia can obtain additional subsidies.

The players that may acquire Alitalia are investigating on various strategies to make Alitalia a face-lift and trying to split the Airline to keep those best-performing route network and fleet, or achieve deep-rooted permanent cuts. April 30 is the deadline for bids.

In 2017, Qatar Airways took the opportunity to acquire 49% of AQA Holdings, the parent company of Italy’s second-largest airline Meridiana Fly. In February, Meridian Airlines changed its name to Air Italy and announced plans to expand international routes and update its fleet.

According to the expansion plan, Air Italy will fly to Bangkok, Miami and New York from this year in addition to domestic air routes, and will add new international destinations in 2019. In April, Air Italy will receive the first of the 20 Boeing 737MAXs it has ordered, five Airbus A330-200s leased from Qatar Airways, and from May 2019, Air Italy will start receiving Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The total number will eventually reach 30. Air Italy’s goal is to establish a fleet of 50 aircraft by 2022 and serve 10 million passengers annually.

However, since Ryanair and EasyJet operate a large number of Italian domestic flights and flights from Italy, compared to international routes, Alitalia’s domestic routes are of relatively small value. According to the data of Airline Weekly, in the 12 months of July 2018, Italy is the country with the largest number of seats in terms of seating capacity for Ryanair, which is expected to increase by 6%.

The managing partner of Aviation Weekly, Seth Kaplan, said: “If Alitalia disappears, most of the markets occupied by Italian Airlines are likely to be divided up by the truly profitable airline.”

There are such precedents in reality. In 2012, Malév Hungarian Airlines, the national carrier of Hungary, was suspended after years of financial difficulties. Today, Wizz Air, EasyJet, Lufthansa, and other aviation divisions dominate the Hungarian aviation market.

Europe has also witnessed other aviation companies that have been operating since the 20th century but have survived for decades thanks to state subsidies. These aviation divisions were eventually defeated by market forces and went bankrupt. In 2001, Belgium’s Belgian Corporation for Air Navigation Services (Sabena SA) went bankrupt; in 2002, Swissair went bankrupt; in 2009, Greece’s Olympic Air was suspended; in 2015, the Portuguese government sold a majority stake in TAP Portugal.

For Alitalia, interested players may include: Lufthansa, Lufthansa’s previous acquisitions of Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Switzerland’s bankruptcy carrier’s shares; Air France & KLM which once held 25% of Alitalia’s shares and Private investment company Cerberus Capital Management. In February, Frederic Cagey, Air France’s chief financial officer, said that Air France wanted Alitalia to remain a member of SkyTeam Alliance without buying shares from them.

According to informed sources, Thiborow Capital Management intends to acquire the entire Alitalia Airlines and plans to completely retain Alitalia.

Delta Airlines and Easy Jet may also be interested in Alitalia. Delta Airlines spokeswoman Olivia Cullis said that Delta is paying attention to Airline’s bankruptcy but does not comment on “rumors”. Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein served as Chief Business and Operations Officer of Alitaliafrom 2003 to 2005.

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