The maiden flight in Air China’s route connecting Phnom Penh and Beijing landed in the Cambodian capital on Monday, marking the start of the first direct flight service connecting the cities.
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“This serves as a start for Air China’s operations in the Kingdom, as well as the start of the first direct flight service connecting Phnom Penh and Beijing,” Cambodia Airports said in a statement.
The flight, which will be operated three times per week – on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday – will use Airbus A320 aircraft.
There are currently several airlines connecting destinations in Cambodia and China, but Air China’s new flight is the first one to directly link their capital cities. The maiden flight took off several months later than initially planned, with the company delaying the start of the service alleging “market reasons”.
Chea Aun, spokesperson for State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), told Khmer Times that the new flight will significantly slash travel times, as passengers will no longer have to go through the airports in Guangxi or Guangdong.
“Besides tourists, the new flight will also attract more businesspeople to the Kingdom,” he explained.
Mr Aun said Sihanoukville International Airport currently handles 15 to 20 flights a week, Siem Reap 60 to 70, and Phnom Penh more than 80. He estimated that around half of total flights in the Kingdom’s three main airports are flying from or to China.
Over 1.44 million Chinese nationals visited the Kingdom in the first nine months of 2018, making China the number one source of tourists for Cambodia, according to a report from Ministry of Tourism.
The number of travellers passing through the three international airports in the Kingdom reached 10.4 million in 2018.