With its operating licence almost in the bag, JC International Airlines is gearing up to launch passenger service next month with two aircraft and an ambitious expansion plan.
The Cambodian-registered airline, managed by China’s Yunnan Jingcheng Group, the parent firm of China’s Ruili Airlines, expects to launch its first flight on March 17.
Initial service will cover domestic routes, flying between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, according to Cheav Kirirom, the airline’s production manager.
“This is a new brand of airline offering a full range of products and services to passengers, and providing excellent service and comfort, [as well as . . .] reasonable fares and good connections,” he said yesterday.
JC International Airlines has already received two Airbus A320s from Ireland-based air leasing company Avolon. The aircraft, one new and one briefly thrown into service by Air Berlin, will be configured as all-economy class with 180 seats.
According to Kirirom, two additional A320 aircrafts are on order and expected to arrive in June and November, respectively.
“As to plan, we are scheduled to add four aircrafts every year to operate on more prospective routes,” he said.
The additional planes will allow the airline to add international service starting with flights to Ho Chi Minh City, then adding routes to China and ASEAN countries.
Kao Sivorn, general director of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), confirmed that JC International Airlines had acquired two A320s for its upcoming operations, and could expect to receive its air operator’s certificate (AOC) by early next month.
“We are now in the process of checking [the licence application,] which is now in the third phase in accordance with international regulation requirements,” he said.
“We expect it will be done and ready to receive its AOC in March.”
According to an operations plan submitted by the airline to the SSCA, and which differs slightly from details provided yesterday by the airline, JC International Airlines has applied to operate weekly service between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, three flights a week between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, and three flights weekly from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville.
The airline has also applied to fly three times a week between Phnom Penh and Kuala Lumpur, three times a week to Singapore, four times a week to Hong Kong and once weekly to Bangkok.
“The main target of JC is Chinese passengers,” said Sivorn, adding that the airline’s management has laid out plans to operate a fleet of 20 Airbus aircraft by 2020.
JC International Airlines registered at the Ministry of Commerce in June 2014 with $1 million in registered capital. Its total investment is $100 million, according to Sivorn.
“Investment in airlines provides a lot of benefits to all sectors and promotes economic growth,” he said.
After the ministers, dignitaries and survivors of the Khmer Rouge had filed in Saturday evening, and Angelina Jolie had greeted the arrival of King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, the lights in the ruins of the ancient city of Angkor Thom finally dimmed for the world premiere of First They Killed My Father.
For a brief moment, the rustling of insects was the only sound before the audience of more than 1,000 was transported back to April 12, 1975.
An adaptation of Loung Ung’s autobiographical book recounting her and her family’s suffering under the Khmer Rouge, the Jolie-directed film depicts in vivid detail the forced evacuations from Phnom Penh, the journey to the brutal labour camps in the country’s northwest, and, for Ung, the conscription of children as soldiers into the ranks of the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea. Ung, who is portrayed in a highly emotional performance by child actress Sareum Srey Moch, was five years old when her family was ordered out of the capital.
For some fellow survivors in attendance at the world premiere, the depiction on the big screen was a harrowing trip back to the country’s darkest chapter.
Say Vorphorn, a 45-year-old doctor in attendance, said that while his experience as a child-survivor of the Khmer Rouge could not be compared to Ung’s, the loss of his own father resonated strongly.
“I was 3 years old during that time, but I didn’t suffer as much because my mother was a cook … [but] I feel this deeply inside my heart because my father was killed during that time,” he said.
Ma Rynet, the star of The Last Reel, who played an extra in a scene in which a captured Khmer Rouge soldier is beaten by angry villagers, said that seeing the final product brought her to tears.
“I hope the world will know Cambodia through this film,” she added.
Shot in the country between November 2015 and February 2016, the movie employed more than 3,500 background actors to recreate scenes showing the population transfers and forced collectivisation of the Khmer Rouge, as well as battle sequences from the eventual Vietnamese invasion that toppled the regime. The film is in Khmer, with occasional French and Vietnamese, and will be released later this year on Netflix.
In an interview with The Post, Jolie said that beyond highlighting the potential of Cambodia for filmmakers – foreign and domestic – she hopes the film will in some ways reintroduce the country to international audiences.
“I hope that people will not just look at this film as a history lesson but they will walk away with a new love and respect for the country,” she said. Attending the film with her six children – two of whom are Cambodian – Jolie has pledged to remain involved in supporting the local film industry.
After attending the premiere, Youk Chhang, the executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said the movie represented a new approach to portrayals of the trauma of the Pol Pot regime.
“I think that this film, for the first time, would train [a Cambodian audience] to look for a beauty in the darkness,” he said, noting that human scenes, in which Ung shares a cricket to eat with her sister, or is hit by her brother after stealing rice, “really capture the heart”.
Himself a child survivor, Chhang felt that it accurately captures the emotional complexities of a childhood experience of mass atrocity.
“Children don’t use physical resistance, they use emotion. It’s the only form of resistance to fight [with] … I think Angie [Jolie] captured the complexities of the emotion on the camera.”
Jolie, speaking to The Post after the film’s Saturday press conference at the Raffles Hotel, said that rendering a child’s point-of-view on-screen was a central challenge in orchestrating the camera-work with director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle.
A difficulty was not just having shots at Ung’s low height but deciding “what she will and will not look at”.
“That point of view grows. At a certain point she cannot look at blood, and when she’s older the POV matures and gets hardened and she starts to witness things she didn’t when she was younger,” she said.
Loung Ung, in an interview on Saturday, said that she hoped the film may break misconceptions about the emotional experience of surviving war and genocide.
“I think people will see that it takes more than anger, [and] it takes more than strength to survive. It takes love, it takes soul and we Cambodians have that in spades,” she said.
Another survivor, Sin Nou Visakha, 65, broke into tears as she spoke to The Post after the screening, calling “the image the same as reality”.
She hoped the film could educate Cambodia’s youth about the horrors of the past.
“I want the young children to watch this, more than old people, because we have been through it and some of them don’t believe that we suffered like that.”
First They Killed My Father will be screening in Phnom Penh at Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, February 21, at 6pm and in Battambang on February 23. It will be available on Netflix later this year.
The Cambodian government is ready to move forward with negotiations on compensation for stripping a French company of its concession to operate Siem Reap’s international airport, while plans for the construction of a new Chinese-operated airport to serve the provincial capital are close to being finalised, a state official said yesterday.
In October, the Cambodian government reached an agreement with China’s state-run Yunnan Investment Holdings Ltd (YIHL) to build a new $880 million airport to serve Siem Reap. The agreement gave YIHL and its construction and airport management subsidiaries an exclusive 55-year build, operate, transfer (BOT) concession on the new airport, replacing the current exclusive agreement with Cambodia Airports, a company majority-owned by France’s Vinci Group, which was set to expire in 2040.
The Postreported in December that a government decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the formation of an eight-person committee to lead compensation talks with Cambodia Airports, while YIHL would be responsible for distributing the settlement amount once its new airport begins operations.
Yim Nola, the senior minister of the Cambodian government who heads the committee, said the government informed Cambodia Airports late last year that it was prepared to discuss compensation and was awaiting its response.
“Until now we still have not heard anything from [Cambodia Airports,]” he said, suggesting that “they might need more time to study their proposal for the compensation amount”.
He added that once the company submits its proposal, the government would require time to evaluate the costs.
“A lot of time is needed for discussion,” he said.
Meanwhile, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) set up a team earlier this week to provide technical and regulatory oversight for the construction of YIHL’s greenfield airport, according to SSCA spokesman Sin Chanserey Vutha. He said the team’s purpose was to help with the initial evaluation for the construction as well as to assist with any other technical challenges that might arise.
“We needed to set up the technical team to work with the Chinese investors as the SSCA is the local regulator and has the specific technical experience and expertise for regulation and compliance,” he said.
Vutha said YIHL has submitted documents for the airport to the Council for Development of Cambodia (CDC), while the group also established a local subsidiary, registered with the Ministry of Commerce under the name Angkor International Airport Investment Cambodia.
While the agreement for the new airport concession is definitive, Vutha said it was yet unclear what future role the existing airport facility would have, floating the possibility that it could be remain in use for domestic flights.
“In my view, the current airport could be used for domestic flights, but if that is not the case, it will have to shut down its operation,” he said.
Cambodia Airports operates international airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville under a 45-year concession dating back to 1995. The company recently sunk $100 million into upgrading its terminals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Darwin Hem, principal partner at BNG Legal law firm, said that while Cambodia Airports’ concession contract has never been made public, compensation negotiations would likely follow the legal framework set forth by the 2007 Law on Concessions.
He noted the Law on Concessions “entitles the concessionaire to compensation in accordance with the terms stipulated in the concession contract, including the fair value of works performed, costs incurred or profit losses sustained by the concessionaire”.
He said even in the absence of a contractual clause on the reduction of the length of the concession contract Cambodia Airports would be entitled to compensation.
The government’s decision to prematurely end Cambodia Airport’s concession could have broader repercussions with international investors, especially if the negotiations are mismanaged or if the company suffers financial losses, Hem noted.
“In the transitional period of the negotiation arrangement for the concession contract, there may be a slight impact on the investors who want to invest in Cambodia, especially those who wish to sign concession contracts for land and infrastructure projects in the country,” he said.
“However, the impact may become stronger if the concessionaire incurs great losses following the negotiation.”
When reached yesterday, Cambodia Airports communication director Khek Norinda said the company did not want to comment on the ongoing negotiations, but expressed optimism for the result.
He said the issue of Siem Reap airport was of mutual concern for the government and Cambodia Airports, and “we are confident that the dialogue on its future development will deliver a constructive outcome”.
Angkor International Airport Investment Cambodia could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Ticket prices for Angkor Wat are scheduled to increase on Wednesday, with industry experts expressing cautious optimism that despite reports showing tourist spending fell last year, the sharp increase in admission fares at the country’s premier tourist attraction would not deter foreigners from visiting Cambodia.
Starting on Wednesday, foreign visitors to the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province will need to fork out almost twice as much for one-day passes, which are set to increase to $37, from $20. Three-day passes will rise to $62, from $40, while week-long passes will cost $72, up from $60.
The higher admission fares, first announced last August, follow similar price hikes at the country’s popular tourist sites. On January 1, the entry fee of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh increased to $10, from $6.25. Entry to the capital’s other top tourist draws, the National Museum and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, rose to $5, from $3.
Carrol Sahaidak-Beaver, secretary-general of the Cambodia Tourism Federation (CTF), said she did not expect these price hikes to have any significant impact on visitor numbers.
“We are not anticipating any negative impact on tourism numbers for either Angkor Wat, the National Museum or Tuol Sleng Museum,” she said yesterday. “The prices have been unchanged for 25 years and were overdue for an increase.”
Sahaidak-Beaver noted that a longer period of adjustment would have helped transition from the old to the new prices. However, the increased expenses should not affect Cambodia’s tourism competitiveness in the region, she added.
“Many tour packages are sold well in advance hence it is difficult to go back and say there has been an increase,” she said. “The new price is competitive to what is offered by our neighbors and internationally, and we fully support the increase.”
Ho Vandy, deputy secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, said while government data showed tourists were spending less money during visits to the Kingdom, it was too early to say how higher admission prices would play out.
“We don’t know yet if it will affect the country in a positive or in a negative way,” he said. “Let’s see at the end of 2017 what the results are.”
In its year-end report released last week, the Ministry of Tourism revealed that overall revenue from tourism in Cambodia declined last year despite more visitors. Total revenue dropped $500 million to $3 billion in 2016 as international tourist arrivals increased 5 percent, crossing the 5 million mark for the first time.
Vandy suggested the lower revenue could be the result of increased airline connectivity. He said with more airlines serving Cambodia the country is increasingly becoming a stopover on wider regional trips, leading to shorter stays.
“There are more direct flights connecting Cambodia with the region and there are many airlines operating in the country,” he said. “Tourists are cutting down the length of their stay because of this and are choosing to go to more places during their trip.”
However, Tui Rutten, managing director of First Travel Cambodia, said a growing shift from high-end to budget travellers was likely behind the decline in overall tourism revenue. There are more Chinese tourists visiting Cambodia on cheap package deals and fewer tourists from Western countries, partly because of poor economic conditions in Europe, she explained.
“There have been a lot of Chinese charters coming to Cambodia and I think there has also been an increase in low-cost tourism,” she said. “I feel like there has been a decrease in the number of high-value tourists from Canada, the US and Europe.”
Whether the admission fee hikes of a handful of tourist sites would impact the decision of budget-conscious tourists to visit Cambodia remains unclear. Rutten preferred not to speculate.
The world premiere of Angelina Jolie’s highly anticipated film First They Killed my Father is set for February 18 in Siem Reap, seven months before its release on Netflix.
The premiere date and location were confirmed yesterday by longtime Jolie friend and acclaimed filmmaker Rithy Panh, who is also co-producing the film. Panh declined to provide any further detail about the exact location and time of the screening.
“We will keep you informed,” he wrote by email.
The Jolie-directed and produced film was shot partly in Battambang and partly in Siem Reap last year.
It is a cinema adaptation of Loung Ung’s Khmer Rouge memoir First They Killed My Father and is being produced for Netflix. A worldwide release date for the online platform has not yet been set but is scheduled for this year.
The memoir details the Khmer Rouge’s violent and bloody takeover of the country and Ung’s experience surviving the regime.
Ung is being played by Sareum Srey Moch, while her parents are being played by Phoeung Kompheak and Sveng Socheata. Some 500 Cambodians were employed in the production of the film.
Jolie has directed two other films, including In the Land of Blood and Honey and the 2014 Oscar-nominated World War II drama Unbroken.
Calls to Jolie’s talent agencies were not returned by press time.
Siem Reap –Here you will find influences of French colonial and Chinese architecture.
With the Tuk Tuk service to the ancient city of Angkor Thom, to visit Angkor Ta Prohm, one of the famous temples of Cambodia. In the afternoon with a Jeep to the Angkor Wat Temple.
Mandalay – After arriving in Mandalay you go to Mandalay Hill for magnificent views over the city and Irrawaddy River. In the afternoon you visit Amarapura, ‘the city of immortality. ” During a sunset cruise on Lake Taungthaman overlooking the U Bein Bridge.
Bagan – Departure to Bagan, where you will visit in the afternoon with a horse and carriagethe old town.You will enjoy the sunset and an unforgettable view from O Gyan Pe Hill.
Air Balloon Flight Tour by balloon over temples studded plains of Bagan and the Irrawaddy River. In the afternoon, with small local boats a mini cruise on the Irrawaddy River.
Hanoi – Let you in Vietnam be surprised by culinary delights, local culture and unique means of transport. In Hanoi visit the main attractions of this fascinating city. Visit the Hoa Lo Prison (known as the “Hanoi Hilton”).
Cruise through Halong Bay city tour Hanoi. In the afternoon, you will embark on a 3-day luxury cruise through one of the most beautiful natural bays in the world. Halong Bay is famous for its thousands of small islands and colorful floating villages in an emerald green sea.
Today we did a tour on the outer part of Angkor Archeological Complex, we woke up at 4.30 am and departed at 7 am. We went about 30 Km away from Angkor complex and see several temples, among them Preh Ko, Ba Kong, Lo Lei, Banteay Srey, and Pre Rup. Touring around those temples took […]
Ticket sales revenue for the Angkor Archaeological Park near Siem Reap, the country’s biggest tourist draw, increased by 4.2 percent last year – the first year since the government took over ticket sales management from the private firm that had operated it for 17 years.
Data released yesterday by the Angkor Institution, the park’s state-run ticketing agency, showed the number of tickets sold in 2016 topped 2.19 million, generating nearly $63.6 million in revenue for the state coffers.
The Angkor Institution was established in January 2015 after the government took control of ticketing services from local firm Sokimex, a firm owned by tycoon Sok Kong. The decision followed repeated allegations of financial irregularities.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said the government has demonstrated its competence in handling ticketing for the ancient temple complex, and tourists were benefit-ting from easy access to Angkor Wat.
“The ticketing service offered by the government body is going smoothly,” she said. “We hope that the government will use some part of the revenue for the tourism infrastructure around the park and make the place more attractive to tourists.”
Sivlin said she expected the government’s management of ticketing to improve as it gained more experience.
In 1999, the government outsourced ticket sales for Angkor Archaeological Park to Sokha Hotels and Resorts, the hospitality arm of Sokimex, under a profit-sharing scheme with the Apsara Authority, the government body that manages the ancient temple complex. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the end of the arrangement during a cabinet meeting in November 2015, with the handover taking place last January.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan denied at the time that persistent rumours of corruption had led to the decision to end Sokimex’s concession.
“When the business started, the government needed a partner. At that time the government had no ability to invest in that sector, so we looked to the private sector,” he said.
“Now the government sees this business is stable, the number of tourists has increased and, instead of partnering with the private sector, the government prefers to do it on our own to maximise the income for the state.”
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, said the ticket sales revenue figure for this year was slightly disappointing given the solid tourism growth witnessed in other ASEAN markets. He said the government and private sector needed to do more to provide better services and attract more tourists.
The Angkor Institution announced last August that it will nearly double price of single-day passes for foreigners and increase the fees for multi-day tickets to the Angkor Archaeological Park starting February 1, 2017. The move prompted widespread fears that the price hike could discourage many tourists from visiting the site.
Vandy said he expects the higher ticket fees will increase overall revenue, but any drop in tourist visits would have negative repercussions on the broader economy. He suggested that the government work to incentivise tourism, encouraging visitors to stay longer in Cambodia, which would lead to higher profits for everyone in the sector.
However, he said he was willing to give the new price scheme a chance.
“Let’s go with the flow at first and then wait and see how the results [of the increased fees] for this year turn out,” he said.
After a long day yesterday, we went to bed at 10pm, woke up around 7am without problems. We spent the whole day visiting the temples in the Siem Reap area, including the infamous Angkor Wat temple! In the evening, we stayed in the touristic center of Siem Reap, explored the city and went to a […]