Chinese airlines eye Cambodian market

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Chinese flight attendants offer drinks aboard a Sichuan Airlines’ flight. Reuters

Three more Chinese airlines will enter the local aviation market in the near future, with the number of routes connecting Chinese and Cambodian cities also expected to rise, according to an industry insider.

Sichuan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines and Ruili Airlines will start operations in Cambodia by the end of 2017 or the start of next year, said Eric Delobel, CEO of Cambodia Airports, who was speaking during a forum on the potential of Chinese tourism last week.

“Cambodia will welcome three more airlines thanks to an increasing number of routes connecting both nations,” Mr Delobel said.

The new routes mentioned by Mr Delobel are Sihanoukville-Guangzhou, Sihanoukville-Kunming, Phnom Penh-Sanming and Phnom Penh-Shenzhen.

Chinese visitors account for roughly one third of total passengers in the kingdom’s three international airports, according to Mr Delobel.

“Chinese routes represent almost 20 percent of all routes operated from Phnom Penh International Airport and more than 25 percent from Siem Reap International Airport.

“For Sihanoukville International Airport, almost 70 percent of all routes in operation are going to China.”

With a combined capacity of 10-million passengers, Mr Delobel said, there is still plenty of room to expand the number of Chinese passengers in the nation’s three main airports.

According to the China Ready policy, the government aims to attract two million Chinese holidaymakers by 2020.

Luu Meng, the co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Tourism Working Group, was upbeat about the market’s outlook and expected Chinese tourists to increase in coming years.

“With enhanced promotion of Cambodia in the Chinese market and closer relations between both governments, the number of Chinese visitors can only go up,” Mr Meng said.

“Our historical legacy coupled with our numerous natural attractions make Cambodia an ideal destination for many Chinese.”

Yang Xuiping, the secretary general of the Asean-China Center, said Chinese travellers are flocking to the kingdom because of its rich historical and cultural heritage, unique tourism experiences and world-famous tourism destinations.

“Angkor Wat has become a popular destination among Chinese tourists,” Ms Yang said.

There are 12 Chinese airlines operating 155 direct flights each week to Cambodia, including 70 flights to Phnom Penh, 82 to Siem Reap and three to Sihanoukville, according to Ms Yang.

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