Hopes of a direct flight between Cambodia and India were re-kindled this week, with the Indian Ambassador announcing that the flight is expected “soon”.
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In a meeting on Monday in Phnom Penh, Ambassador Manika Jain told Mao Havannal, Secretary of State for Civil Aviation, that India “has plans to operate a direct flight to Cambodia” and that “it will happen soon”.
Ms Jain also said her government will help the Kingdom conduct training in the aviation industry, particularly in engineering, flight procedure design and aircraft maintenance.
Aiming to boost tourist numbers travelling between the two nations, Cambodia and India have been discussing the establishment of a direct flight for years.
Sin Chansereyvutha, spokesman at State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said that now the main hurdle standing in the way of a direct flight is insufficient market demand.
“India and Cambodia already signed an aviation agreement last year, so the legal side of things is taken care of. However, we still face the problem of a lack of demand for the flight,” Mr Chansereyvutha said.
He said no airline, from either country, has so far announced intentions to cover the route.
Earlier this year, the prime ministers of both countries pledged to have a direct flight service operated by designated airlines in the near future. They also expressed their support for the expansion of air traffic rights and civil aviation arrangements to promote tourism between the two countries.
India-Cambodia relations go back to the first century AD when Hindu and Buddhist religious and cultural influences emanated out of India to various parts of Southeast Asia.
The pervading influence of Hinduism, Buddhism and Indian architecture are borne out by the magnificent structures at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Phrom and other religious and historical sites in Cambodia.
Cambodia received 30,000 Indian tourists in the first semester of this year, up 10 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.