Saturday, August 1, 2009

Address at the Launch of the National Airlines, “Cambodia Angkor Air”

Phnom Penh, July 27, 2009

- Your Excellency Truong Vinh Trong, Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Repulic of Vietnam

- Excellencies, Lok Chum Teav, Lok Okhnas, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests

- Dear Compatriots,

I and my wife have a great honor and pleasure to be here in the launch of “Cambodia Angkor Air” which is jointly owned by the private sector and the state. Taking this opportunity, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to H.E. Truong Vinh Trong, Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and all delegates who spare your valuable time to attend this historic event. The launch of Cambodia Angkor Air represents another pride of Cambodia in its effort to revive its National Airlines. This achievement cannot be separated from the support from and close cooperation with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a neighboring country with close cooperation in all sectors, especially politics and economics.

This launch indeed does not imply the start of Cambodia National Airlines. Cambodia started its National Airlines in 1956, and later on, due to the war and lack of human resources, the national airlines ceased its operation. Thus, we can see that Cambodia National Airlines has its history of more than half decade, by having gone through both difficult and prosperous period. In particular, Royale Air Cambodge was launched in 1956, with 60% stake owned by the Royal Government of Cambodia and 30% stake owned by Air France. This company’s operation was notably successful, unfortunately, due to some domestic crisis and political instability; it ceased its operation after the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975.

Later on, after 1979, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea established the National Airline Company called “Cambodia Airlines” which was 100% owned by the state. The operation relied on aircrafts and utilities produced in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and were not fully commercial as the company was mandated to both operate on commercial basis and serve social needs. In 1995, we moved from fully state-owed company by forming a joint venture with a Malaysian company and the operation of that company was purely commercial. In spite of pure commercial operation and support from the experienced Malaysia party, the company’s operation was not successful and the blame goes to unstable market and 9/11 terrorist attack. Later on, the company stopped its operation.

Civil Aviation sector is a fast growing industry in domestic, regional and global market. Air transport brings about enormous benefits to the society and human beings; it also supports economic development, trade and tourism. Air transport has made the world become a global village, making us more convenient in commuting, transporting and communicating with each other.

With growing demand of flight services, many airlines have been established. In particular, we observe that many Asian national airlines have improved their operation to compete with already matured Western airlines. In particular, Cambodia enjoys competitive advantage and enormous tourism potentials that were left by its previous generations in both abstract and non-abstract achievements such as cultural, artistic and historical heritage as well as thousand of stone temples through out the country including the stone carving arts and other live artistic achievements, which attract the visitors, archeologists and historian, who are the main objectives of the world tourism.

Based on the potential of the current tourism sector and the legacy we have inherited, I realize that Cambodia National Airline Company will further fill in the gap and create a full supporting mechanism for the national economic infrastructure. Through this mean, the Company will actively contribute to the improvement in the areas of transportation, trade and tourism as well as directly contributing to the job creation, which is the basis for socio-economic development in Cambodia.

In fact, beside the effort to make its business a success with direct interest to the national socio-economic situation, the National Airline Company has another significant role as an effective mean in disseminating Khmer culture, civilization and tradition to be further known by the outside world. In this sense, we could see that tourism will become an effective bridge in providing transportation services to visitors coming from abroad to visit our Cambodia: “Kingdom of Wonder”. This is directly contributing to the promotion of tourism in Cambodia and continuity of job creation, increase of income and enhancement of the living standard of the people.

The aspect mentioned here, could be assumed that the progress of Cambodia Airline Sector will provide mean for highlighting legacy, which is the long lasting resources to show the visitors from different corners of the world and this mechanism will continue spreading to the progress of other sectors. In this spirit, the Royal Government has tried its effort and paid greater attention to facilitate in all kinds in order to make sure various sectors, especially tourism, which is the national core, is in progress. In actuality, the Royal Government has so far invested in developing important infrastructures in order to support tourism sector, including the setting out of crucial policies such as granting visa on spot, setting up electronic visa system and the exemption of visa for a number of countries, which are ASEAN member states.

Moreover, recently in the ASEAN framework, the ASEAN member states have agreed to establish a framework of open sky on air transportation by making the flights more extensive, and Cambodia is also one of the signatories in the multilateral liberal agreement. This policy will surely contribute to the development of Cambodia tourism from year to year, in which tourism sector today shares 12% of the gross domestic products.

During the first stage of the Company operation, the Royal Government has decided to provide support and incentives to make sure our National Airline Company can be operated with full confidence, strong position and be competitive with other airline companies in the region. This supporting policy is aimed at making sure the National Airline Company, “Cambodia Angkor Air”, can be operated with success as well as ensuring revenues for the national budget. Along with this, I would also like to support the business plan of this new National Airline Company, which is going to provide flying services from Siem Reap - Phnom Penh - Sihanoukville and the international flight route from Siem Reap – Bangkok. The initial flight through this route is to facilitate the transportation of visitors from Sihanouk province, who have traveled into Cambodia through big tourism ships, to have opportunity to visit Angkor temples, and add more flights from Siem Reap - Bangkok, which is responding to the policy and strategy of the Royal Government in the face of Global Economic Crisis in order to revive tourism sector in Cambodia, especially in Siem Reap province, who receive impact from this crisis. In the near future, the flights might be connected to other regions of Vietnam, Luong Prabang city of Lao PDR and other cities of tourism in the region and other countries as many as possible. The connection of coastal areas to the Tourism City of Angkor in Siem Reap is the significant strategy in expanding the visiting ability of visitors more than before and to make sure that those visitors are able to visit Angkor and coastal areas within a tour package and will also facilitate visitors to see many places and stay longer.

According to the experiences so far, we have realized that in order to build and lead an airline company to be more successful and sustainable, it is required for the leadership of the company to be wise, professional and highly experienced, be able to conform themselves to the market change, especially to be honest with high responsibility and commitment, teamwork and mutual understanding by relying on the internal principles and regulations approved by the governing board.

I believe that all leaders and governing board members of the National Airline Company, “Cambodia Angkor Air”, will try your utmost to overcome every obstacles and learn from the past experiences in order to bring this company a success and contribute to the promotion of Cambodia Competitiveness ability in the new context of open sky policy in the region through the knowledge transfer, experiences and other necessary technologies, including all levels of training either in management and technical level to Cambodian employees aiming to enhance the delivery of services and efficiency.

At the end, with the official launch of the National Airline Company, “Cambodia Angkor Air”, today I would like to wish Excellency Truong Vinh Trong, Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Colleagues and Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests and all Compatriots, who are present here today the four gems of Buddhist blessings: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

May I wish the National Airline Company, “Cambodia Angkor Air, a sustainable success and progress.

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