Cambodians take to the skies, new Asia routes opening soon

Chinese passenger arrivals via the three international airports are the main trend providing steady growth, a senior officer at Cambodia Airports says, but Cambodians flying abroad are following the Chinese pattern.

Eric Delobel, CEO of Cambodia Airports, said Cambodian passengers had become the main factor in the steady growth of the three airports.

This has pushed Cambodia Airports to diversify traffic with more countries in the region, Mr Delobel, said at French Week 2018, held recently in Siem Reap province.

He said the airport was to seek sustainable development via diversification of transit in the region.

He said Chinese passengers were the main travelers in term of absolute value and in term of routes.

As of 2017, Chinese passengers represented about 25 percent of total passengers, a 60 percent increase compared with 2016.

This was an amazing increase in Chinese passengers, Mr Delobel said. He added that more than a million Cambodian passengers travelled in 2017, representing the second-top nationality of our airportspassengers.

“That means a trend of Cambodian people travelling abroad through three airports. That is something that is growing a lot. And it provides the country with diversification of traffic.”

The main challenge for the airport and for tourism in Cambodia was to target diversification, he said.

“Asean is what we are targeting today. By having diversified traffic, you will have sustainable development. We are targeting working with all airlines to better connect Cambodia with all the countries in Asean,” he said.

Cambodia Airports had to work towards better connections with the Philippines, Indonesia, India and Russia, plus all of Asia.

Luu Meng, the co-chairman of the Government-Private Sector Tourism Working Group, said airlines market competition, economic income, and more destinations connected with Cambodia were among the main factors which had pushed people to travel.

“Figures of increasing Cambodian travel outbound by air show that demand for travel overseas from Cambodia is increasing because now many airline companies offer competitive fares and direct flights to main destinations in the region,” Mr Meng said.

Mr Meng agreed with Mr Delobel about diversifying new routes to other destinations which increase the options for passengers, both locals and foreign tourists.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said in February that he expected flight routes from Cambodia to India and Indonesia to open up soon.

“I expected chartered flights will happen first from India because India has an Asean-India strategy,” he said. “We will keep talking to Indonesia about direct flights because both nations have potential for tourism to ancient temples.”

In 2017, all three airports accommodated 8.8 million passengers, 25 percent increase on 2016, according to Mr Delobel.

Cambodian outbound tourists amounted to 1.7 million in 2017, a growth of 22 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism, referring to main land, waterway and air routes.

Chinese, Eric Delobel, international airports, passengers, traffic