Malaysia-based low cost carrier AirAsia officially launched its first direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Sihanoukville International Airport yesterday to cater to the increasing number of tourists keen to visit Cambodia’s coastal areas and enjoy its beaches.
The inaugural AirAsia flight, with 180 passengers onboard, landed at 1:00 PM and returned back to Kuala Lumpur 40 minutes later, according to a Cambodia Airports press release.
AirAsia’s four times weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Sihanoukville is its third route into Cambodia, with the airline flying daily to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Spencer Lee, commercial head at AirAsia, said that with the expansion of the airline’s services to Cambodia, AirAsia has become one of the key players in the kingdom’s tourism sector.
“We are thrilled that our first flight to Sihanoukville marked a milestone with a successful full flight for our 50th unique route. As a truly Asean airline, it is our commitment to drive tourism efforts to all countries that we operate in – especially within the region,” said Mr Lee.
“This coastal city in Cambodia presents great potential and dynamic opportunities in terms of tourism, trade and economy. We are happy to be a part of this journey to develop Sihanoukville further,” he added.
“Our footprint in Cambodia to date would not be possible without the help from local parties and we would like to thank the Cambodian airport authorities for their tremendous support.
“With Sihanoukville added into our extensive network map of over 120 destinations, we hope to enable this city to be a popular tourist destination that enables travellers from the region to experience a hidden side of Asean that has yet to be discovered.”
Mr Lee said AirAsia aims to develop Sihanoukville to become a tourist hotspot like how it has introduced unique destinations such as Luang Prabang in Laos, Indonesia’s Banda Aceh and Bhubaneswar in India.
“Travellers looking to bask in the sun and enjoy the waters can look to the unspoiled tropical island of Koh Rong Samloem for beautiful sandy beaches, jungle mountains, mangrove and marine life. While the most popular beach in Sihanoukville, Ochheuteal Beach, boasts a late night scene with restaurants and bars.”
Eric Delobel, CEO of Cambodia Airports, said that AirAsia’s direct flights to Sihanoukville would better facilitate Cambodia’s connectivity to all parts of the world.
“Our successful partnership with AirAsia is moving up another step and it is a key driver in connecting Cambodia to the world,” he added.
Mr Delobel said Cambodia Airports was keen to attract more airlines to Sihanoukville and for that reason it would inaugurate in early 2018 a new airport terminal and at the same time renovate the airport runway to cater to bigger aircraft.
Taing Sochet Krisna, director of Sihanoukville provincial tourism department, said that AirAsia will help to promote the image of the country’s coastal area and attract more tourists, investment and trade.
“Now tourists will be able to fly directly to my province,” he said.