French firm SCA, the chief operator of the Kingdom’s airports, forecasts that passenger traffic will increase through Phnom Penh as recovery picks up
THE operator of Cambodia’s three major airports forecast Wednesday a “slight rebound” for the domestic aviation sector next year.
Societe Concessionaires des Aeroports (SCA) Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Deviller said passenger traffic at Phnom Penh International Airport would increase 3.6 percent over 2009 levels and plane movements 2 percent.
He also projected a 5.6 percent jump in passenger numbers at Siem Reap International Airport and a 2.2 percent gain in plane movements.
The projection was based on an anticipated climb in travel demand as the worldwide economic climate begins to improve, he told reporters at the launch of the winter-season flight schedules for Cambodia’s international airports.
SCA operates the international airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, as well as Sihanoukville International Airport, which Deviller said is now fully operational, although it has not yet been officially launched.
“The Cambodian government wants to officially open the airport, and it expects to have French government officials present,” he said. “I know there are some discussions between the government, but we are a private company, so I don’t interfere in this.”
A notable absentee from the winter schedules, which run from Sunday until March 27, was Siem Reap Airways, which is in negotiations with the government to resume operations. Domestic routes operated by Bangkok Airways have also been taken out of the domestic schedules, as the government has said it will not renew its permit when it expires Sunday.
Among highlights in the schedules, Korean Air has been allotted three flights each week on its new route between Busan and Siem Reap. National carrier Cambodia Angkor Air has been allocated 28 slots each week for its ATR72 aircraft out of Phnom Penh and 42 flights from Siem Reap, where it operates the ATR72 and A321 aircraft.
Lao Airlines has increased the frequency of its flights from Siem Reap by four to 14 each week. South Korea’s Asiana Airlines will resume flights between Siem Reap and Seoul from mid-November, scheduling 4 flights per week, while fellow Korean carrier Jeju Air will also operate flights between Cambodia’s key tourist hub and Incheon. Japan Airlines will add charter flights between Japanese cities and Siem Reap, Devillers added.
There are 17 airlines operating from Cambodia’s international airports, carrying around 3 million passengers every year, Deviller said. Ministry of Tourism figures show air arrivals were down 13 percent for the first eight months of this year.