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Two more Asean direct flights near

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Philippine Airlines planes are parked at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced it will launch a flight service to Phnom Penh from Manila in April. AFP

Two more Asean direct flights near

Cambodia is expected to have direct air links with all Asean member states this year, with the exception of only Brunei, as two new airlines connecting the Kingdom to the Philippines and Indonesia will launch this year.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced it will launch a flight service to Phnom Penh from Manila in April.

Last week, a delegation from Indonesian low-cost airline Citilink met Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and unveiled plans to open the direct air route, connecting the two countries during the second half of this year.

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation spokesperson Chea Aun on Sunday said with the two expected air routes in operation, Cambodia will be connected directly by air service with all the countries of the Asean bloc, except for Brunei.

“When there is a direct air route available, there will be more inflow of tourists at first and later businesses will also come,” he said, adding that the absence of direct air routes make tourists and businesses depend on a third country for connecting flights, consuming time and money.

PAL is scheduled to launch the Phnom Penh-Manila flight on April 1. It will operate five times weekly from Monday to Saturday. The first flight, PR521 will depart from Manila at 10:10pm and will be scheduled to arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport at 11:45pm.

Talking to reporters after meeting with Citilink’s delegation last Friday, Khon said Cambodia welcomes

Citilink’s readiness to operate a direct flight to the Kingdom, adding that more direct flights between Cambodia and Asean member states are crucial.

“This will make our dream come true – we have waited for it for a long time,” he said, referring to Citilink’s plans to launch the direct flight to the Kingdom.

Khon said currently, travellers between Cambodia and Indonesia need to transit through Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh.

Ministry of Tourism figures indicate that some 47,256 Indonesians visited Cambodia last year – up nine per cent from a year earlier. Filipinos visiting Cambodia totalled 76,024 last year – a 14 per cent decrease from 88,906 in 2017.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin on Sunday said more direct flights between Cambodia and Asean member states is essential to boost bilateral tourism, trade and investment.

Sivlin said the Philippines and Indonesia are big markets for Cambodian tourism as outbound tourists in the two nations have increased annually and represent a huge market.

“The previous absence of direct air routes between our countries was a barrier to attracting tourists. We believe that with more airlines [providing direct flights], the Cambodian tourism industry will benefit,” she said.