Chinese airline adds Siem Reap route

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Ankor Wat is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Kingdom of Cambodia. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Chinese carrier Guangxi Beibu Gulf Airlines plans to add flights from Nanning city in southern China to Siem Reap province.

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The carrier is planning to launch its first international service – Nanning-Siem Reap – on May 29, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation says.

Other carriers have applied for approval from the government to operate, said Sin Chanserey Vutha, spokesman at Cambodia’s aviation body.

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Mr Chanserey Vutha did not know what Guangxi Beibu Gulf Airlines’ flight schedule would be, but said the new carrier was among dozens of carriers with cash from Chinese and local investors that were setting out options for destinations and competitive flight fares.

These could even saturate the sector at some point.

“We have seven to eight airlines that have applied for approval to operate flight services in Cambodia,” he said.

“Most of the carriers are Chinese investments. Some partner with local investors due to the One Belt One Road initiative because the Chinese government has encouraged Chinese to invest in Cambodia.”

While more new carriers would take to skies, Cambodia needed only five to six airlines, Mr Chanserey Vutha said.

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However, due to the free market there was no requirement to limit the number of airlines.

Chinese passengers were the main travelers in term of absolute value and in term of routes, according to a senior officer at Cambodia Airports.

As of 2017, Chinese passengers represented about 25 percent of total passengers, a 60 percent increase compared with 2016.

Chinese passenger arrivals and Cambodian outbound via the three international airports were the main trend providing steady growth, Eric Delobel, CEO of Cambodia Airports, said.

While more airlines are established in the aviation market in the country, Cambodia Airports plans to expand flight routes beyond Chinese markets to regional countries, Mr Delobel said in March.

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This diversification of destinations was to support sustainable growth.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in Facebook post on Tuesday that Cambodia was becoming a tourism hotspot in the region and this was driving the rise in air carriers.

This would bring down fares through competition. He said cheap flights and more destination options encouraged local people to travel abroad.

By last year, eleven cities in China had been connected to Phnom Penh through daily or weekly flights, while the many other Chinese destinations are available from Siem Reap International Airport and Sihanoukville International Airport via direct flights.

In 2017, all three airports accommodated 8.8 million passengers, 25 percent increase on 2016, according to Mr Delobel.

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