Cambodia Airways, one of the five airlines allowed to operate charter flights to China from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia transiting in Cambodia for refuelling, has successfully operated two flights.
Only Chinese nationals who were stranded in the Philippines have been flown home so far.
Cambodia Airways Public Relations and Marketing manager Sok Ravy told Khmer Times yesterday that the first flight left Manila on September 16 via Phnom Penh before departing to Chengdu Airport, China, while the second operated on September 17 from Manila via Phnom Penh before departing to Fuzhou Airport, China.
Three weeks ago, the government approved five local airlines to transport stranded Chinese nationals from the three countries.
The airlines are Cambodia Angkor Air, Cambodia Airways, Lanmei Airlines, JC (Cambodia) International Airlines and Sky Angkor Airlines.
State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chan Sereyvutha said on Monday the flights depend on demand and if there are not enough bookings, the airline will not fly.
Chan Sereyvutha said there were around 90 passengers on each flight of the first two transits and most of the passengers so far have been from the business community.
Operating the flights is increasing cash flow for the airline but it is still barely breaking even, he added.
“Sometimes, we don’t even make enough to cover the airline staff wages because the number of flights is low,” Sereyvutha said.
According to a letter by the SSCA dated September 7, the chosen airlines must not allow transiting passengers to disembark and enter Cambodia.
The companies must have all flight attendants screened for COVID-19 and apply the Health Ministry’s preventative measures, it said.
SSCA spokesman Chea Aun told Khmer Times on September 10 that before picking up passengers, the Kingdom needs to use diplomatic channels and obtain approval from the respective countries.
“The international gate is very important. If there are no flights the airlines will face financial problems,” he said. “Allowing transit chartered flights will help them to survive.”
The government last month announced a temporary suspension of flights from the Philippines, effective from August 13, after 13 Chinese nationals tested positive for COVID-19 after taking flights from that country.
Earlier last month, the government also temporarily banned all flights from Malaysia and Indonesia, until the COVID-19 situation in those countries improves.