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Cambodia’s aviation sector hard hit by Coronavirus pandemic

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Temperature readings being conducted on outbound passengers at Phnom Penh International Airport Wednesday. A group of 111 Malaysians, stranded in Cambodia for several weeks were flown out by a chartered aircraft, facilitated by the Malaysian Embassy. They were stranded because of numerous flight cancellations to and from Kuala Lumpur. KT

Cambodia has recorded a staggering 40 percent decline in flights coming in or going out due to COVID-19.

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Of the three international airports, Siem Reap is the worst hit as international flights has all but dried off with many countries going into lock down mode.

A Siem Reap airport source told Khmer Times that flights has slowed to a trickle with many cancellations and poor loads on those flights which are still operating, albeit on a lesser frequency.

Overall, the number of international flights to and from Cambodia’s three airports in March is forecast to fall by around 40 percent compared to that in December last year since the COVID-19 outbreak.

During a briefing to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Samdech Sar Kheng, it was revealed that thus far in March, up to March 24, only 2,575 flghts had landed or taken off at all three airports. This is a huge drop when compared to  December 2019 where  there were a total of 4,241 international flights to Cambodia.

A visit to Phnom Penh international airport yesterday showed the airport largely deserted with many outlets closed, the domestic terminal shut and very few international flights. The major flight appeared to be Thai Airways and Thai Smile where long queues were observed.

Some flights to China also were taking place as and when load factors permitted, said a Phnom Penh airport source.

Locally registered airlines were still flying domestic routes although frequency and passenger load was minimal but they were focusing on several destinations in China where flight restrictions has been lifted.

Sihanoukville airport reportedly was faring much better due to continuous flights from China.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Tuesday updated its analysis of the COVID-19 impact on revenue in the global air transport industry, and now estimates passenger revenues could plummet $252 billion, or 44 percent below 2019’s figure.

The prediction was made in a scenario in which severe travel restrictions persist for up to three months, followed by a gradual economic recovery later this year.

IATA earlier predicted up to $113 billion revenue losses, but that was before countries around the world introduced sweeping travel restrictions that largely eliminated international air travel. “The airline industry faces its gravest crisis. Within a matter of a few weeks, our previous worst-case scenario is looking better than our latest estimates. But without immediate government relief measures, there will not be an industry left standing,” IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac warned.

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