Cambodia's domestic and international air freight volume contracted by about 30 per cent year-on-year to 25,000 tonnes in the first half of this year, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) reported.
At the same time, the Kingdom served 1.95 million air passengers during the period, tumbling 67.5 per cent from the year-ago period.
Cambodia Airports communications and public relations director Khek Norinda told The Post on Monday that global travel restrictions implemented to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have drastically reduced traffic at the Kingdom’s three international airports.
The economic slowdown has negatively weighed on air cargo volume, he said, noting that Phnom Penh International Airport has also experienced sporadic spikes in air freight.
“We don’t expect a sizable chunk of activity to resume until the third or even fourth quarter of 2020. In any event, air traffic is unlikely to return anytime soon to the levels recorded in 2019 and in the years before,” Norinda said.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin told The Post on Monday that the drop in passengers and air cargo during the period was due to a government ban on the issue of visas for tourists.
“Consequently, goods transport follows the same pattern. When there aren’t many tourists coming in and going out, the demand for goods declines in concordance.
“We still see people travel to Cambodia looking for investment opportunities with high hopes of starting a new venture in our country,” she said.
The tourism sector has nearly flatlined due to the pandemic, she said, adding that about 90 per cent of its businesses have closed.
“We acknowledge the decline. As Covid-19 tightened its grip, the government stopped issuing visas for travellers. Now we only provide visas for businesspeople and diplomats, not tourists, so the magnitude of the drop in passengers is bound to be huge,” Sivlin said.
Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya noted the pandemic’s crippling effects on the Kingdom’s transport sector.
“The government has been working to build the infrastructure to help develop the socio-economy and find solutions to reduce transport and logistics costs. It will not be easy to recover air transport,” he said.
Also on Monday, minister in charge of the SSCA Mao Havannall told a meeting on the preparation of the civil aviation development strategic plan 2021-2025 that the SSCA will do its part in shoring up development of the air transport sector in observance of international safety standards.