Cambodia and Nepal are expected to sign an Air Service Agreement (ASA) next week, which would allow airlines to operate flights between the two nations.
Sin Chanserey Vutha, spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said the ASA with Nepal is one of several agreements that Prime Minister Hun Sen will sign during his official visit to the South Asian country, where he is due to attend the Asia-Pacific Summit in Kathmandu.
The ASA will be the first agreement in the aviation sector that Nepal and Cambodia enter, Mr Vutha said. He explained that it allows airlines from both countries to establish routes connecting Cambodia and Nepal, as well as operate flights between cities inside each country.
“This agreement paves the way to enhance connectivity between two countries,” he said.
Mr Vutha said that SSCA has yet to receive an application from a Nepali airline interested in flying to Cambodia.
Based on the agreement, airlines that have not obtained a license from SSCA will be able to operate flights to Cambodia by entering code share agreements with licensed airlines, Mr Vutha said.
“With this agreement, we have opened our market up. It is now up to the airlines whether they want to come or not, but the market is open. When they are ready to come, we will facilitate the process,” Mr Vutha said.
Mr Vutha said that Cambodia has signed ASA agreements with more than 40 countries around the world, while Asean has signed similar agreements with China, the Europe Union, South Korea, India and Japan, among others.
Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Cambodian chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, welcomed the agreement, pointing out that it is the first of its kind between the countries.
“This is a good move as it opens doors to the markets in South Asia, with countries such as Pakistan, Nepal and India that can significantly contribute to our economic growth,” Mr Sinan said.
“The agreement will boost cooperation between people in both nations,” Mr Sinan added.
During the visit to Nepal, Mr Hun Sen will make a courtesy call to Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari and hold talks with Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli.
Both prime ministers will preside over a number of signing ceremonies to expand bilateral cooperation.
The Cambodian delegation also includes Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn, as well as members of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce.
According to a report from the Ministry of Tourism, from January to September, more than 54,800 tourists from South Asia visited the Kingdom, a 12 percent increase. India, with 44, 220 visitors, topped the list of tourists by nationality, followed by Sri Lanka (2,624 visitors), Pakistan (2,460), Bangladesh (2,157) and Nepal (2,135).