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DUBAI: April 06, 2016. Emirates Sky Cargo (ESC) is using a leased Global Africa Cargo MD11 freighter to begin a weekly service linking the UAE with Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Zimbabwean-registered Global Africa Cargo operates three MD11 freighter aircraft from Liege and Dubai to points in West Africa according to Netherlands-based Euro Cargo Aviation.

The new service to Phnom Penh coincides with the latest IATA statistics showing a 3.1 percent growth in freight tonne-kilometers (FTKs) between the first two months of 2014 and 2016, but a 5.6 percent drop in February this year compared to the same month in 2015.

Global Africa CargoIATA says this was due to the impact of the U.S. port strike that caused a spike in airfreight in early 2015 and the Chinese New Year falling in February this year.

"The air freight business remains a difficult one. February’s performance continues a weak trend. And there are few factors on the horizon that would see this change substantially,” said IATA CEO Tony Tyler who repeated his call for IATA members to improve their airfreight value proposition.

Noting Middle East carriers have cut their rate of expansion in the past six months, IATA says February FTKs for the region still grew 3.7 percent year-on-year while Asia Pacific airlines reported a drop of 12.4 percent.

The new MD11 freighter service to Phnom Penh is ESC’s 13th freighter destination in Asia and is prompted by an air cargo market that is “growing at a robust rate with Europe and the United States being key export markets. Establishing a presence in this market will position Emirates Sky Cargo to benefit from the healthy growth potential,” according to Hiran Perera, the company’s senior vice president.

Citing recent reports, ESC says the volume of airfreight shipments to and from Cambodia increased 14 percent in 2015 to reach 38,065 tonnes overall while the Cambodia-EU air cargo trade lane saw a 16.5 percent compounded annual growth rate between 2012 and 2015.

Qatar Airways has been operating passenger services from Doha to Phnom Penh since February 2013 while Etihad began service to the city in October of that year.

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