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Air cargo route links Cambodia, China

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The route between Phnom Penh and Lanzhou is expected to boost Cambodian commerce. AFP

Air cargo route links Cambodia, China

An air cargo service route has been launched linking Phnom Penh, northwest China’s Lanzhou city and eastern Pakistan’s Lahore city paving the way for Cambodia to boost commerce with the world’s most populous nation.

The route’s maiden flight carried 18 tonnes of dried mango to Lanzhou on October 30, reported China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency on Thursday, citing the International Land Port of Gansu (Lanzhou).

Xinhua said the flight left Lanzhou that same day for Lahore carrying Chinese household products. “There are two to four flights a week for the route,” it said.

Lanzhou New Area Commerce Trade and Logistics Investment Group Co Ltd (CTLI Group) reported on October 31 that the dried mango had originated from Cambodia.

Xinhua said flights from Phnom Penh to Lanzhou will carry goods such as nuts, and fresh and frozen seafood to Lanzhou, the provincial capital of Gansu.

Once unloaded, the cargo plane will be reloaded with Chinese household products and agricultural products and then take off for Pakistan’s second largest city, according to the land port.

The new air-cargo service will help Gansu further tap into the southeast and south Asian markets and facilitate trade and exchanges with them, Yang Shipeng with the land port was reported as saying.

“Gansu has been improving infrastructure and clearance efficiency to boost foreign trade in recent years. The province has opened multiple international cargo services to Central Asia, Europe and ASEAN countries, significantly boosting foreign trade in the province,” Xinhua said.

Xue Wen, head of the CTLI Group’s International Trade Co, said the group’s international business has enjoyed rapid development over the past few years.

“This time, the Cambodian fruit product charter business was completed by the group’s subsidiary company Comprehensive Bonded Zone International Trade Company and Lanmei Airlines [Cambodia].

“The smooth opening of the first flight has won the strong support from many departments, such as the Department of Economic Affairs, Lanzhou Customs, Lanzhou New Area Business Travel Bureau and Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport Logistics Group.” said Xue.

CTLI Group said it will work together with Chinese and international import-export traders and Lanmei Airlines (Cambodia) Co Ltd to ratchet up shipments of “fruits, chilled aquatic products, pre-packaged foods and daily necessities”.

It said it will “actively promote the export of Gansu’s specialty products to countries along the ‘Belt and Road’ to accelerate the development of the port economy in the Lanzhou New Area, and promote the high-quality development of Gansu’s import and export trade”.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy told The Post that providing air freight services between Lanzhou and Phnom Penh would offer additional options for investors and facilitate trade.

“We congratulate China for adding air transport services connecting with Phnom Penh, which is sure to help improve price competition in the Cambodian transport sector,” he said, adding that current air freight fees are higher than desired.

There are currently two air freight flights per week on offer from Phnom Penh to Hong Kong and Phnom Penh to Singapore, which do not meet demand, Chanthy lamented.

“We are having a hard time getting enough inbound and outbound flights to Cambodia because our air cargo service is still limited, so connecting flights from China will provide better options for the transport sector in Cambodia,” he said.

Cambodia Airports communications and public relations director Khek Norinda in July said the global travel restrictions implemented to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have drastically reduced traffic at the Kingdom’s three international airports.

The economic slowdown has negatively weighed on air cargo volume, he said, noting that Phnom Penh International Airport has also experienced sporadic spikes in air freight.

“We don’t expect a sizable chunk of activity to resume until the third or even fourth quarter of 2020. In any event, air traffic is unlikely to return anytime soon to the levels recorded in 2019 and in the years before,” Norinda said then.

Cambodia’s domestic and international air freight volume contracted by about 30 per cent year-on-year to 25,000 tonnes in the first half of this year, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) reported.

At the same time, the Kingdom served 1.95 million air passengers during the period, tumbling 67.5 per cent from the year-ago period.

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