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Study to shed light on air connectivity in Mekong region

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
An aircraft prepares for landing at Phnom Penh International Airport. KT/Chor Sokunthea

New research will soon shed light on the challenges and opportunities in boosting the number of air links between Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and China.

Carried out as part of the Mekong Lancang Cooperation Framework, the study, which was launched in April and is expected to conclude in September next year, will provide insight into the most efficient ways of enhancing air connectivity between the four countries.

“This project will provide the knowledge base needed to upgrade the air transport industry in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and China,” said Mao Havannal, Cambodia’s Secretary of State for Civil Aviation.

“It will help enhance standards of quality in the aviation industry as well as in related industries like tourism,” he added.

Mr Havannal was speaking at a workshop on air connectivity in the region held on Thursday in Phnom Penh.

He said the study will help industry insiders understand the effects that better air connectivity in the region will have on economic growth, as well as provide important insight on how to encourage airlines to establish new routes connecting each country.

Mr Havannal further added that the study will yield important information on how to get companies and governments to up investments in airport facilities.

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesperson Sinn Chanserey Vutha told Khmer Times that the study will look into a wide variety of issues, including the main barriers to connectivity in each country as well as airports’ current capacity.

“When completed, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and China will use the findings to set up strategies to improve air connectivity between the four countries,” Mr Chanserey Vutha said.

“Better air connectivity will help boost the number of tourist arrivals, aiding the growth of the economy, attracting investment and generating jobs.”

Thoun Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, said the number of air connections currently in place in the region is insufficient, adding that this project holds the potential to ameliorate the situation.

“The main problem for us is that air connectivity with Laos and Myanmar is very limited, while airplane ticket prices are very high. I believe this study will help make things better.”

According to SSCA, Cambodia’s three international airports received 8.5 million passengers – a hike of 22 percent – during the first ten months of 2018. The body expects that figure to reach 10 million by the end of the year.

There are now 28 direct flights connecting Cambodian cities with destination across China. 16 of these flights depart from Siem Reap, while the rest take off from Phnom Penh International Airport.

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