PAL, Cambodian group to launch new international airline

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has teamed up with a Cambodian business tycoon to launch a new international airline this year.

San Miguel Corp., a part-owner of PAL, confirmed the newly struck deal in a disclosure with the Philippine Stock Exchange Thursday.

The new carrier will be called Cambodia Airlines and is a joint venture with PAL and Cambodia's Royal Group of Companies headed by Okhna Kith Meng.

PAL has invested a minority stake (49 percent) in the new airline, San Miguel told the local bourse.

Related story: A first in history: PH gets investment grade

The disclosure was issued after earlier media reports claimed that it was San Miguel that struck a deal with Royal Group.

"The company has a significant minority interest in PAL, through Trustmark Holdings Corp.," San Miguel clarified.

PAL is one of the newer investments made by San Miguel, which has ventured into toll road operations and power, among others, apart from its century-old brewery business.

Also read: What's slowing U.S. investments to PH?

Cambodia Airline's first domestic flights could begin as early as June this year while international flights could start by October, the Royal Group was quoted by an AFP report as saying.

Kith Meng, for his part, said the joint venture is set to "contribute to Cambodia's economic growth by creating employment opportunities, bringing investors and building a strong aviation industry."

Cambodia Airlines will be the Southeast Asian nation's second national carrier, after Cambodia Angkor Air launched in 2009.

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