After a five-year break, Lao Airlines will revive the Phnom Penh-Vientiane route with direct flights three times a week starting in November, the company’s representative said yesterday.
Ek Narun, assistant to the general manager of Lao Airlines in Phnom Penh, said tickets will be available for sale in Phnom Penh on November 7.
“We have more airplanes to operate and we have seen more [Lao] tourists coming to Cambodia, so we decided to restart flights between the two cities,” Narun said.
He added that Lao Airlines started connecting the two capitals in 1989, but that flights were suspended in April 2008 due to a lack of customers.
For the route, the carrier will use an Airbus A320 that can carry 158 passengers.
Lao Airlines is set to break a monopoly on a route that has until now been operated by Vietnam Airlines.
Minister of Tourism Thong Kong yesterday welcomed the return of Lao Airline’s services, saying it will help to strengthen ties between the two countries.
“It is a good move to be connected via air because we are neighbours,” Khon said. “We can boost more trade and the tourism sector.”
Data from the Ministry of Tourism show that Lao tourists ranked fourth in the list of international arrivals to Cambodia last year. Vietnam came in first, followed by South Korean and Chinese visitors.
Between January and May this year, Lao tourists in Cambodia numbered 146,340, compared with 81,059 in the same period in 2012.
Founded in 1976, the national and flag carrier of Laos is already flying to Siem Reap along with other regional airlines in a bid to capitalise on the growing number of visitors to the Angkor Wat gateway.
According to aviation industry website ch-aviation, Lao Airlines plans to acquire two A321-200s in 2015 to boost its local and regional network.
The airline’s website says the carrier serves six international and six domestic locations. New routes planned are within Myanmar, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.