Budget carrier Cebu Pacific has stopped its flights to and from Siem Reap, leaving only one Philippine carrier servicing the Cambodia-Philippines air route.
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Difficulties in turning out a profit was the main reason for Cebu Pacific’s departure from the Kingdom, according to Philippine media reports last week. Cebu Pacific ended its Siem Reap flights yesterday.
Cebu Pacific spokesperson Charo Logarta-Lagamon was quoted as saying by Philippine Star that “route viability became a concern” for its Siem Reap service.
The reports confirmed rumors that have been circulating as far as back last year that the Gokongwei-owned airline was contemplating such a move.
The difficulties faced by Cebu Pacific were also a topic of discussion among Filipinos who attended the 3rd Cambodia Travel Mart.
Then last week, Dirk Salcedo, an aviation blogger based out of the Philippines, reported that closure of the route was imminent, citing its online booking platform and data from FlightRadar24.com that show no Cebu Pacific flights beyond Dec 7.
The news saddened many Filipinos in Cambodia. The Kingdom is host to more than 6,000 Filipino nationals.
Cebu Pacific started flying to Siem Reap in 2012 amidst a growing number of Filipinos visiting Angkor Wat, the Kingdom’s leading tourist destination.
The thousands of Filipinos working and residing in Cambodia also factored in Cebu Pacific’s decision to establish a direct flight to Siem Reap, becoming the first such carrier from the Philippines to do so.
Since then, the airline has been flying three times a week from Manila to Siem Reap and vice versa using an Airbus A-320 aircraft.
Cebu Pacific’s decision to close the Siem Reap route means that Philippine Airlines (PAL) will be the sole Philippine carrier with direct flight to Cambodia. PAL re-opened the Phnom Penh-Manila air route last year and now flies five times a week to Cambodia.
A few other Philippine carriers like Royal Air Philippines operate charter flights servicing the Cambodia route.
The Siem Reap service was not the sole casualty of Cebu Pacific’s decision to focus on more profitable air routes. The budget airline also ended its flights to Guam, a United States territory in the Western Pacific.