Indonesian low-cost carrier Citilink touched down at Phnom Penh International Airport on Friday afternoon, marking a new milestone in reconnecting Cambodia and Indonesia for the first time since 1969.
Citilink, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia (Persero) Tbk, uses a 180-seater Airbus 320 aircraft to facilitate travels on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. A total of 67 passengers were onboard Citilink’s maiden flight from Jakarta at 2pm on Friday.
The service is expected to boost air traffic between the two countries by offering direct flights that reduce travel time and increase travel options.
The launch of the new route coincided with the 60th anniversary of Indonesian-Cambodian diplomatic relations.
“We are pleased to launch Citilink’s direct flight from Jakarta to Phnom Penh to connect both capital cities,” said Heriyanto, Citilink’s corporate strategy vice president. “We hope that this new flight can can strengthen the partnership between Indonesia and Cambodia.”
“We also hope that this new direct flight can go beyond just connecting the two neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, but also to gain more partnership potentials in many sectors such as culture, economy, politics, and social and many more,” he added. “Phnom Penh is the third route we served in Asian countries, after Penang and Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia. We are flying 320 flights per day and mostly serve domestically, as we want to support growing economy of Indonesia, but we are now expanding another international route to Phnom Penh,”
Phillipe Araujo, a representative of Cambodia Airports, said the non-stop flight between Jakarta and Phnom Penh is a new milestone for Phnom Penh International Airport.
“It is a breakthrough to welcome a new carrier and to open a new route. Specifically, we had looked forward to serving Indonesia and its huge market,” Mr Araujo said, adding that recent launches of new routes bode well for reaching new traffic heights at his airport when the year wraps up.
“To accommodate the expected growth, we continue investing in the expansion of our facilities and in the further improvement of our operational process, while bolstering the quality of service to our customers,” he said.
Mr Heriyanto said Citilink works with the International Air Transport Association to support aviation with global standards in terms of safety, security, efficiency and sustainability.
He said it is doing so in order to drive economic growth and build business relationships.
Mr Heriyanto said this flight will drive economic growth and allow the peoples of Cambodia and Indonesia to explore each country.
“It was initiated four years ago by the ambassador of Indonesia to Cambodia, who approached us and convinced us [about] this market,” he said. “We have the first flight to Phnom Penh. We thank you all for supporting us.”
Hor Monirath, secretary of state with the Tourism Ministry, said government officials on both sides worked to make the new route happen. He said the new route would respond to the need of travellers.
“With this new direct flight, and the improvement of facilities at Phnom Penh International Airport, Cambodia is becoming an even more effective gateway for investors and tourists, particularly for Indonesians,” Mr Monirath said. “This is the time for Cambodians to reach Jakarta and other destinations in Indonesia.”
“I am confident the direct flight between the two countries is very important to boosting our economy through trade, tourism, investment, and cultural exchange that bring people closer,” he said.
Chea Aun, secretary of state with State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said Cambodia and Indonesia first signed an air service agreement in 1969 and that civil aviation authorities from both countries signed an MoU on air connectivity in 2006.
“The air service agreement and the MoU between the two countries enabled us to negotiate and establish this flight,” he said. “Based on he International Civil Aviation Organization and requirements in Cambodia, we also sent our inspectors to check the company structure, documents and other legal aspects to ensure that flying to Cambodia fulfills international and national standards.”
“We are the authority that makes flights safe and secure,” Mr Aun added. “We also issued a foreign air operator certificate to Citilink.”
According to the Tourism Ministry, last year Cambodia received 65,000 Indonesian tourists, an increase of 11.8 percent when compared to the previous year.
It said that within the first for months of this year, the number of Indonesian tourist arrivals was at 21,243, an increase of 16.3 percent.