At least two international airlines plan to increase flights to Cambodia in February. This comes after a steady improvement to the Covid-19 situation in the Kingdom, according to experts in the Cambodian tourism sector.
Airlines that plan to add more flights to the Kingdom in early February include Bangkok Airways and Thai VietJet.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin told The Post on January 31 that after the Cambodian government announced the Kingdom’s reopening to fully-vaccinated international tourists in mid-November, an increasing number of domestic and international airlines have been operating flights to Cambodia.
“Many airlines have requested approval from the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation [SSCA] to operate flights. These include currently operating airlines and new ones hoping to begin flying to Cambodia, so from February we expect to see more new flights,” she said.
Sivlin added that the resumption of domestic and international flights has been providing relief for the tourism sector’s direct and indirect workers.
The tourism sector of Cambodia has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with nearly half of tourism-related businesses forced to shutter, according to a report by the Asia Foundation released in August last year.
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said that the increase in international flights shows that there is strong confidence amongst investors and tourists regarding travel to the Kingdom. Although not yet at an ideal level, he said, it is a promising start for the country to rebuild its global trade and investment links.
Despite the encouraging number of flights being resumed, however, Sinan said that he still does not expect much tourism activity at this time – sluggishness that he attributes to cities’ varying approaches to the constantly evolving pandemic situation.
“Since the Covid-19 crisis is not over, I understand that many tourists do not dare to venture abroad because lockdown of cities is possible at any time. Nonetheless, the resumption of flights will be good for investment and trade,” he said.
Flight schedules at Cambodia’s three international airports showed that by the end of January, about 10 domestic and international airlines were operating in Cambodia, with some companies operating flights three-to-four times a week, a frequency which SSCA spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha pointed to as a good sign that the Cambodian aviation sector would return to normal in the near future.
He added that the low Covid-19 infection rates in the Kingdom would entice tourists hoping to escape countries plagued by high case rates. “Cambodia is an attractive country and has the best grip on the pandemic. This factor will gradually revive overseas tourist interest,” he said.
However, Chansereyvutha noted that tourists from abroad are still limited at present. Though several airlines have made flight requests for February, such flights are subject to passenger numbers; with few passengers, they run the risk of cancellation.
AirAsia, Asia’s largest budget airline operator, resumed flights from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh on January 26, following a more than 17 month hiatus.
Other airlines that are operating flights to the capital include Vietnam Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Lanmei Airlines, Thai Air Asia, Thai Smile, Cambodia Airways, Cambodia Angkor Air, China Southern Airlines, and Singapore Airlines.