Closure of air space to most airlines, especially regional carriers, reduced frequency, shuttered borders and travel curbs has impacted Cambodia’s air traffic greatly, almost crippling the industry and the airports.
Norinda Khek, Communication & PR Director of Cambodia Airports told Khmer Times that the number of passengers for May plunged 98 percent in all three international airports managed by the company, compared to the same month last year.
“In May 2019, the three airports recorded 900,067 passengers but for this May, we registered just 18,135. The regular airlines that still operate are more or less the same ones that have maintained flights since the Covid-19 outbreak.
“They include some Chinese carriers with links from/to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Kunming and Guangzhou. However, the flight frequencies have been significantly reduced.
There are also flights with Asiana Air and Korean Air from/to Seoul, each on a three weekly service basis (instead of on a daily basis previously,” Mr Khek pointed out.
An airline official who declined to identified said that Cambodia should consider easing some of the entry requirements, such as the $50,000 insurance policy.
“Having a certified letter stating the passenger is free of Covid-19 72 hours prior to boarding is fine, as with the new visa, but two issues remain prohibitive. They are the $50,000 insurance policy since the government had announced very early on that free medical treatment will be given for all Covid-19 patients, irrespective of their nationality.
“The other is the Government designated quarantine area as there has been so much of bad publicity with the facility. They could consider an undertaking by the passenger that the passenger will be responsible for the hotel accommodation (choices has to be provided with rates) during the 14 days required period,” the official said.
He said that he is finding it extremely difficult to persuade his headquarters to resume flights to Phnom Penh, at least, with a reduced frequency of three flights a week or even two fights per week but is not making any headway because of the overly prohibitive conditions.
Khmer Times has learned that some airlines which had previously flown up to three times a day to Phnom Penh have been opening their booking sites for bookings and then abruptly cancelled them.
“Foreigners remaining in Cambodia are running out of cash, reserves and want to go home bit the frequent cancellation of flights, especially after payment being made and accepted and not refunded, is putting more strains.
“A workable solution must be found to accommodate flights and flights must be mounted. This is where bilateral relations must come into play,” the airline executive said. Khmer Times.