AirAsia ramps up expansion with Cambodia flights from May

AirAsia ramps up expansion with Cambodia flights from May

FILE PHOTO: Planes from AirAsia, a subsidiary airline of Capital A, are seen on the tarmac of Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2 (KLIA2) in Sepang, Malaysia, Feb 26, 2024. (Reuters)
FILE PHOTO: Planes from AirAsia, a subsidiary airline of Capital A, are seen on the tarmac of Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2 (KLIA2) in Sepang, Malaysia, Feb 26, 2024. (Reuters)

AirAsia’s Cambodia unit kicked off ticket sales for domestic flights as the budget carrier seeks to expand across the region and tap into a resurgence in travel demand.

The joint venture between AirAsia parent Capital A Bhd and Cambodian hospitality firm Sivilai Asia will see its maiden flight between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap on May 2, according to a statement on Monday. The company will service routes between the two cities, as well as to Sihanoukville, using two Airbus A320 aircraft, it said.

The inaugural flight will take off more than a year after the plan was announced and will mark the group’s first expansion into a new market since the pandemic battered its finances and forced it to close units in India and Japan. 

The airline, which has ambitions to launch the world’s first low-cost network carrier, is already looking at other opportunities in the fast-growing Southeast Asian market. AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes has indicated interest in starting units in Singapore and Vietnam, which would build upon existing operations in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.

There has been “significant growth” in Cambodian air travel and tourism, AirAsia Cambodia Chief Executive Officer Vissoth Nam said in the statement. “Our vision is to transform the way people travel in Cambodia and make air travel an integral part of the country’s transportation network.”

The start of domestic services in Cambodia also helps underpin the positive outlook for Capital A, which continues to be classified as financially distressed by the Malaysian stock exchange. It’s already merging AirAsia operations with its long-haul affiliate AirAsia X Bhd. The company reported an annual profit last year — its first since the pandemic — and is expecting all of its grounded fleet to be back in the air this year amid strong demand and high airfares. 

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