Friday, July 31, 2009

Another airline for Cambodia

By Luc Citrinot, eTN| Jul 29, 2009

Since the bankruptcy of Royal Air Cambodge in 2002, Cambodia has struggled to get a new national carrier. Many failed joint ventures or dubious and corrupted businessmen launching their own airlines have naturally failed to offer Cambodia a credible air transport alternative. Cambodia then relies exclusively on the good will of foreign carriers to be linked to the rest of the world. It remains an unsustainable position, especially as the kingdom has large ambitions for its tourism.

Welcome now to Cambodia Angkor Airlines, which might open a new chapter in Cambodian aviation history. The airline is backed by Vietnam Airlines, which sent two ATR 72s to the new joint venture owned 51 percent by the Cambodian government. The agreement between Vietnam Airlines and Cambodia stipulates that CAA will acquire two Airbus A320s and A321s for regional routes, with delivery due by the end of the year or early 2010.

The airline will start flying with four daily flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and will rapidly open a flight between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. In parallel, Cambodia is officially opening the new Sihanoukville Airport, officially renamed Preah Sihanouk International Airport, after the former Cambodian King.

SAS Thailand: Free travel to Scandinavia for children

To be eligible, the adults must sign up at the SAS booth at the Home, Health and Family show at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center 10am-9pm, Thursday 30 July-Sunday 2 August. When one adult buys a ticket, one child (age 2-11) travels free. The offer is available for SAS flights between Bangkok and Scandinavia in September.

The Scandinavian airline has been flying to Thailand for about 60 years this year. Operations to Bangkok were commenced in 1949.

In 1959, SAS co-founded Thai Airways International Ltd., with the Thai Government through Airways Co., Ltd. holding, where SAS supplied aircraft, management and training to the Thais in order to build THAI into an international reputable airline. SAS's 30% shareholding was released back to Thai Government in 1977, but the close co-operation has continued. Today the airline employs 130 people in Thailand.

Created 2009-07-30
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Thailand's Bangkok airport stepping up security to curb baggage theft

AoT beefs up security at Suvarnabhumi

Baggage staff coming under closer scrutiny

Published: 31/07/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Airports of Thailand Plc is stepping up security to curb thefts from passenger baggage at Suvarnabhumi airport.

AoT chairman Piyaphan Champasut said the board had expressed concern at a meeting yesterday about reports of thefts in the airport's luggage handling system.

Several passengers have complained that valuables packed inside their bags had disappeared. They discovered the thefts when they collected their baggage from carousels at the airport.

Mr Piyaphan said AoT management had proposed to the board ways to curb luggage theft.

Stricter security measures would be imposed on staff in the airport's luggage sorting area.

The number of inspectors in the area would be boosted and an additional 165 surveillance cameras would be installed.

A special task unit would also be set up to inspect the luggage handling process.

In addition, AoT plans to add 320 surveillance cameras to the airport's luggage handling area.

Luggage handlers must wear uniforms without pockets, and will be required to wear luminous vests with a tag clearly stating their name and unit at all times.

AoT also plans to make lockers available for luggage handlers to store their belongings.

The handlers will be searched when they enter and leave the luggage handling area.

AoT will act swiftly against staff caught stealing.

They will be fired and the contracted company that hired them will face legal consequences.

A firm whose staff steal from passengers' bags more than three times will have its contract terminated, Mr Piyaphan said.

If luggage theft occurred, it was contracted staff who were responsible.

But the AoT had to shoulder the cost of stepping up security at the airport to tackle the problem.

AoT management has proposed that private firms pay a share of the airport's additional security costs, he said.

The AoT board yesterday also approved a management plan to collect an extra 989 million baht in rent from the King Power group, which runs duty free shops at the airport. AoT demanded the extra rent after Suvarnabhumi airport found King Power's duty free outlets took up more retail space than stated in its contract with AoT.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thai music to helicopters-Chai Nasylvanta charts the course

High expectations

Chai Nasylvanta charts the course of his career from music to helicopters

Published: 24/07/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Realtime

During his four years at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Engineering, Chai Nasylvanta discovered another aspiration. He became involved in the production and marketing of the first Sai Jai Thai music cassette tape, sung by Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn. It was priced at 100 baht and sold over 300,000 copies - quite a number back in 1979. That involvement stirred Chai's interest in business administration and led him to pursue an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania.

‘‘To be an entrepreneur you have to have the guts to take risks,’’ said Chai Nasylvanta. ‘‘With the risk comes reward—the higher the risk, the bigger the reward.’’

Though sharp-minded at making financial decisions as a former banker, Chai also has a softer side as a composer. He wrote two of the songs in the first Sai Jai Thai charity album, but is most famous for his 1980s hits like Long Rak (Try to Love), Sai Chon (Flowing River) and Thur (You), recorded by Jantanee Unakul, who also wrote the lyrics.

Today, in his 50s, the independent consultant is waiting in the wings for a helicopter service boom. Initially, he bought a brand new helicopter for private use to take his father, Privy Councillor Chaovana Nasylvanta, upcountry; and to share the advantages of flying with others, he formed Advance Aviation in December 2006.

With Bangkok and Phuket-based operations and a fleet of three choppers, the company provides VIP chartered flights and also the "Flying Your Dream" programme which takes passengers on a 35-minute scenic flight over Bangkok. The high-in-the-sky ride aims to give Thais the experience of helicopter flying, so that in two to three years' time, when the market is hopefully booming, they will be familiar with this fast and traffic-avoiding form of transport.

Why didn't you become a professional composer?

Even though I love music, I am an artist who's not comfortable with the business side of today's music industry. There are still a lot of things that don't inspire me to write more songs - but even so I still love listening to music. So does my dad, and we spend two to three hours listening every day. He encouraged me to study music at a very young age but I started composing songs in 1976, when I was 18.

Does your music reflect your character?

I think so. I'm an only child who grew up alone. My songs are mainly very soft pop, with only two to three numbers out of 20 being lively tunes.

What is your motto in life?

Stay happy and don't harm or trouble others. I see many people working hard all the time, and I think we should work hard from time to time. But there needs to be a balance in life, so I retired when I was 37 to enjoy life, as well as doing things to help others, like my schools projects.

How did the school projects come about?

When I was young, my dad used to award scholarship funds and I started using my savings to top up the scholarships. With my early retirement, I could give more time and more of my savings to help rural schools.

Five years ago, my wife and I bought a house in Phu Ruea, Loei, and we spent a lot of time driving around the area to find schools and students in need. One school, for example, had 50 students but with government budget there were only three desks and chairs and the kids had to sit on the floor. So we donated tables, chairs and many other things. Also, wooden school buildings were often in a bad state of repair, and we have restored them for around 40 schools, getting farther and farther away from our house.

In your 50s, do you find yourself working hard again with the helicopter business?

Yes. I started it for my dad and didn't mean to work hard, but it's a pretty big investment and I thought of marketing it to recover some cost. We did some marketing research, then - wow! - we found so many opportunities. It's turned out to be bigger than I expected with four helicopters, but I want to have a good system and capable people in place, and that may take two or three years. And if it's successful, I hope to retire all over again!

Why is it difficult for a helicopter business to get off the ground in Thailand?

Though it started 20 years ago, the helicopter business in Thailand has never been successful. In the US, you can just go to your helicopter and fly. In Thailand, it takes three days to get permission to fly to a new destination.

One advantage of travelling by helicopter is that you go from one point to another, not from airport to airport, so we want to get as close to the destination as possible, and as quickly as possible. A landing point is essential and we need landing permission from the Department of Civil Aviation as well as route approval from the Supreme Command.

Now, who would want to wait for three days? Relaxing the regulations would make flying so much easier, and then the market would be wide open.

When is that likely to happen?

The regulatory processes are getting better and better, so I'd say that in two or three years' time, the helicopter service market in Thailand is likely to expand rapidly, just like in developed countries where using helicopters is easy and not so tightly regulated. We are a bit early in starting the business, but if we'd waited another two years, everybody would be doing it and we wouldn't have an advantage.

Will helicopter flying appeal to Thais?

There are two types of people: those with the wrong impression, which is about 80 percent, and those who just don't like heights. We have to change the perception of the first group, who think that a helicopter is a very loud, vibrating machine that flies with two doors open.

Our helicopters are completely different. They're Eurocopters from a sister company of Airbus, and they're very quiet, very stable and very safe. There are three factors that ensure safety: machine, pilot, and maintenance. All our helicopters are new, our pilots are former police flyers with 5,000-8,000 flying hours experience, and the maintenance centre in Romklao is a joint venture with Eurocopter. With the new generation more open to flying, we hope that they will promote helicopter use as they move up the corporate ladder.

Do you think people will spend their money on luxury flights?

It's thought of as an ultra-luxurious service, something that one shouldn't really spend money on, but helicopter flying is very cost-efficient. It depends on your priorities in life. If you want to have a 10-digit deposit in your bank account, don't spend your money on it; but if you want to have extra time with your family, it can be very cheap. I met a billionaire who said that she couldn't afford to fly in my helicopter, but her priority in life wasn't saving time, it was saving money.

How do you find life as an entrepreneur?

I considered myself a professional who works for someone and risks someone else's money, not my own money. I managed someone else's wealth, not my wealth. And I kept saying that a professional could not be a good entrepreneur.

To be an entrepreneur you have to have the guts to take risks. With the risk comes reward - the higher the risk, the bigger the reward. When it comes to your own money you may think too much, become too cautious and miss a lot of opportunities.

Why do you have confidence in your helicopter service?

Because a helicopter is a unique product in that it maintains its value over years of use, unlike a car that begins to depreciate as soon as you've backed it out of the showroom. And our company doesn't need to borrow. The first three helicopters are all equity financed and are still an asset, so we won't suffer a big loss even in the worst scenario.

For more information about Advance Aviation helicopter flights, visit or call 085-055-4444.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Plug It In, Strap It On And Fly It Away


    OSHKOSH, Wisc. — Electric planes are getting a lot of buzz at the big AirVenture show in Oshkosh, and we’ve spotted our first one while walking around the grounds.

    bug_airventure5Yuneec brought its sleek e430 to Oshkosh. It’s a light-sport aircraft with room for two and a 40 kilowatt (54 horsepower) electric motor. Power comes from a lithium-polymer battery pack the company says recharges in three hours at 240 volts. Yuneec says flight time ranges from 90 minutes to three hours depending upon how the plane is configured. The composite aircraft made its first test flight in June, and the Chinese company hopes to begin selling the plane next year for $89,000.

    As cool as the e430 is, the gadget we really want to try is E-Pac, the James Bond-esque electric backpack paramotor that Yuneec brought to the show. It’s basically a giant electric fan you strap to your back. Why? Why not! Check it out after the jump.

    Stay tuned for more about the electric revolution at Oshkosh this year.



    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Dubai surpasses Hong Kong in passenger traffic

    Dubai's passenger traffic has gone up by five per cent over the past six months. (EB FILE)
    By Shweta Jain on Monday, July 27, 2009

    Dubai International airport left behind Hong Kong International Airport in terms of passenger numbers for the first time last month, according to the latest report by Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, or Capa.

    "The global financial crisis has accelerated Dubai's ascent, as key financial hubs, such as Hong Kong, fall back sharply, while the swine flu outbreak is also affecting demand in Asia," the Capa report stated.

    It added: "Dubai International, home of the aggressive, fast-growing Emirates airline, continues its relentless climb up the ranking of the world's busiest international airports. Last year it was Singapore. Earlier this year it was Bangkok. Now it's Hong Kong's turn."

    The latest passenger statistics by Capa revealed that Dubai handled 3.36 million passengers in June 2009, about 55,000 more than Hong Kong. Whereas, Singapore handled about 3.1 million passengers for the month, overtaking Bangkok, which handled 2.8 million as Thai Airways "haemorrhages cash".

    In contrast, for the first six months of the year, Hong Kong was still the largest of the group under review, as per the Capa estimates, handling 22.4 million passengers, while Dubai handled 19.4 million passengers, ahead of Bangkok's 18.9 million and Singapore's 17.3 million passengers.

    "While the Asia-Pacific airports continue to shrink, as home carriers scale back capacity to deal with plummeting passenger numbers, Dubai continues to go from strength to strength, with just one month of falling passenger traffic this year and double-digit growth in June 2009," Capa said in the report, adding that the Middle East aviation market (and the new generation sixth freedom models employed by the region's major airlines) has proved highly resilient to the downturn.

    Sure enough, Dubai's passenger traffic has gone up by five per cent over the past six months and the airport recorded a notable 10.3 per cent increase in June 2009, recording a year-on-year double-digit growth on the back of strong demand during the peak summer period.

    The three terminals at Dubai International handled a total of 3,361,413 passengers in June 2009 up sharply from 3,048,220 in the same period last year, Dubai Airports said last week.

    The outlook for the rest of the summer period, through to the end of September and beyond, "remains strong", according to Chief Executive of Dubai Airports Paul Griffith's recent statement.

    He added: "The fact that Dubai International Airport is recording double-digit passenger growth during the deepest global recession in decades bodes well for the future.

    "When the current economic situation improves, Dubai will be in good shape, ready to lead the global recovery in air travel."

    This poses a clear contrast with the significant falls in passenger traffic at the other hub airports across the world, with Bangkok down the most at 10.7 per cent (-7.9 per cent in June 2009 alone), in the first half of this year, followed by Hong Kong, which dropped by 8.4 per cent (-18.9 per cent in June), and Singapore down 7.6 per cent, Capa said. "The unrest in Thailand over late 2008 and early 2009 has contributed heavily to the half-year downturn in Bangkok," the report pointed out.

    If the first-half trends continue through the second half of 2009, then Dubai is likely to handle about 39.3 million passengers for the full year, not too far short of Hong Kong, Capa said, further clarifying that this is "not a forecast". It added that a more buoyant Chinese economy could be Hong Kong's saviour.

    Meanwhile, according to Airports Council International (ACI), Dubai International was rated as the sixth largest airport worldwide in terms of international passengers in 2008, and has consistently been the fastest growing of the top 20 international airports over the past five years.

    "If Dubai's trajectory continues, it could climb ahead of Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Amsterdam in international passenger throughput over the next few years, becoming the largest international airport outside Europe. As it stands at the moment, only Hong Kong, Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle and London Heathrow are larger," the report stated.

    Also, according to ACI statistics, the first five months of this year saw global passenger traffic declining by eight per cent with international traffic falling by eight per cent and domestic traffic dropping by seven per cent.

    Passengers traffic for Asian legacy carriers collapse

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    The release of half-year results for Asia Pacific Airlines Association (AAPA), which comprises 16 major airlines in the region, has seen a dramatic decrease in traffic in June. Air carriers transported two million passengers less last month, translating to a total of 9.88 million compared to 11.83 million a year earlier. Load factor was down by 5.7 points to 70.5 percent, despite a 9.2 percent reduction in available seat capacity. For the first six months of 2009, total passengers traffic felt by 11.5 percent to reach 63.8 million compared to 72.1 million during the same period of 2008.

    The Asia-Pacific region seems more affected than the rest of the world. Not only because of the worldwide recession, but also because of the psychological reluctance to travel generated by a perceived lack of safety at some destinations as well as the health risk from swine flu or H1N1 virus. According to latest numbers, the pandemic has translated into 6,776 H1N1 cases in Thailand, 2,902 in Hong Kong, 1,772 in China PRC, 921 in Malaysia, 440 in Vietnam and 239 in Indonesia [figures as of July 22]. Despite the fact that over 96 percent of the cases are non-life threatening, travel patterns show an impact.

    According to Andrew Herdman, AAPA director general, “the trading environment for Asia Pacific airlines remains extremely challenging, with further recent declines in passenger demand reflecting ongoing economic weakness as well as public anxieties over government initiatives related to the widening swine flu pandemic. As a result, we still haven’t seen a floor in terms of overall passenger demand.”

    Miserable performances of large Asian carriers are, however, balanced by bright outlook for low-cost airlines in the region. Tiger Airways recently reported a 7.6 percent year-on-year increase in traffic for the first quarter of 2009 with seat capacity increasing by 11.4 percent capacity increase. And AirAsia group continues to expand aggressively. Passenger traffic rose from January to March by 21 percent compared to 2008 with total revenues rocketing by 33 percent. AirAsia is now the region’s sixth largest carrier the second largest by 2013, according to CAPA, the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation. In the Philippines, Cebu Pacific announced on July 22 that it transported 33 percent more passengers during the first half of 2008 with revenues up by 20 percent. The airline expects to make a net profit by year end and could transport over 15 million passengers annually by 2015.

    Cambodia Angkor Air set to begin operations


    Cambodia Angkor Air will fly tomorrowImage via


    According to media sources from Phnom Penh, a signing ceremony was held on Sunday by Cambodia and Viet Nam on the establishment of the Cambodian Air Carrier, which is a joint venture between Vietnam Airlines and the National Cambodia Air Carrier, namely Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA).

    "The Vietnamese side has invested a capital of US$100 million in Cambodia Angkor Air," said Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, at the signing ceremony, which was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and visiting Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, who is also the representative of the Prime Minister of Vietnam.

    "Cambodia will have [a] 51 percent share, and the Vietnamese side controls 49 percent," Mr. Sok An said, adding that the new Cambodian airline will help to push the tourism sector in the kingdom, while the world has met with the global economic and financial crisis. The Vietnamese investment on Cambodia Angkor Air will be processed for 30 years, Mr. Sok An said.

    Meanwhile, Vietnam has also invested another US$100 million to open the Bank for Development and Investment of Viet Nam in Cambodia.

    These investments show the confidence from the Vietnamese side on the economic growth of Cambodia, Mr. Sok An said, adding that it is the pride of the country that they have our own national flag air carrier. He stressed that the new airline will launch the official flight tomorrow.

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the ceremony, "I would like to urge the new Cambodia Angkor Air to strengthen the management on safety and security for all travelers."

    Additionally, Dr. Thong Khong, Cambodian Tourism Minister, told reporters that tourism is one of the key sectors in the country saying, "This year we expect to have [a] two to three percent increase on this sector." For the first six month of this year, the tourism sector decreased about one percent across the country. However, in the capital of Phnom Penh, it has increased 14 to 16 percent so far.

    Last year, Cambodia achieved about two million foreign tourists.