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A new cargo airline is hoping to take advantage of soaring air freight volumes in and out of Cambodia.

Backed by a Chinese company, Phnom Penh Air Cargo Co is expected shortly to apply for its AOC from Cambodian authorities, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

Cambodia Airports data reveals that air freight volumes to and from the capital grew to 41,104 tonnes between 2015 and 2016, a rise of 13%. This followed a 13% rise between 2014 and 2015.

2016 saw a surge in exports from the garment-making country, with the capital’s airport at Phnom Penh seeing a 22.5% growth rate. Imports were a more modest 3.7%, although 2015 saw a 21% increase.

Cambodia’s exports are dominated by textiles, which account for some 70% of the total. Other products include vehicles, footwear, natural rubber and fish.

While Cambodia’s key export markets are the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Germany and the UK, the new airline will focus solely on routes to China’s Nanning, in the south near Vietnam – but with onward flights to ASEAN nations.

Phnom Penh Air Cargo Co was set up with $30m in registered capital and plans to launch with a 737 freighter, eventually operating between three and six aircraft.

Imports provide about half Cambodia’s air freight volumes – 2016 saw Phnom Penh Airport handle 19,306 tonnes, compared with 21,798 of exports – and its main import partner is China. It also imports from Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea, with key products being petroleum products, fabrics, vehicles, wholesale yarn, cigarettes, electrical communications equipment and medicine.

Several freight airlines already operate into Cambodia, after a surge of interest in the country in recent years, but it is not yet clear whether there will be sufficient volumes for all. Cathay, AirBridgeCargo, K-Mile, Raya and Emirates all operate into the kingdom.

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