The combined number of passengers in Cambodia’s three international airports surpassed the eight million mark in 2017 for the first time in the country’s history, an event hailed as a milestone for the fledging aviation sector.
This year there has been a hike of one million passengers compared with 2016, when the total number of passengers in the country’s three international airports – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville – amounted to seven million, said Eric Delobel, the CEO of Cambodia Airports, who connected the increase to Cambodia’s growing magnetism as a tourist destination.
“This milestone does not belong exclusively to Cambodia Airports, nor is it just a product of the hard work of employees, airlines and the local authorities. It is the success of Cambodia as a nation; of Cambodia as a tourism destination,” said Mr Delobel, whose company manages the three international airports.
The capital’s airport alone received four million travellers, with the other four million shared by the airports in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
Mr Delobel noted that there has been a marked increase in the number of Cambodians travelling outside the country, adding that Cambodian airports can now accommodate more passengers due to recent and ongoing renovations.
“Thanks to upgraded facilitates in the three airports, we are now able to welcome more and more passengers from any country,” Mr Delobel said.
Just this month, Phnom Penh International Airport’s renovated arrival hall and boarding concourse were presented to the public, following a $26 million investment from the operator to upgrade facilities to cope with fast growth in the number of passengers.
According to Mr Delobel, the majority of passengers in 2017 came from China, the US, Europe, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Ho Vandy, the secretary-general of the Cambodian National Tourism Alliance, said the government’s open sky policy is partly responsible for the swift expansion of the local aviation industry, adding that the government plans on further renovating airport facilities across the country.
“To keep the current growth rate, the government has announced it will build a new airport and expand the current airports. This will attract more local and international visitors,” he said.