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Airline gets first Cambodia post-Covid AOC

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State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) chief Mao Havannall speaks at Wednesday’s welcoming ceremony. FRESH NEWS

Airline gets first Cambodia post-Covid AOC

Thai Vietjet Air on March 16 became the first foreign airline in two years to obtain an Air Operating Licence (AOC) from Cambodia, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) chief Mao Havannall.

During the welcoming ceremony for the first Thai Vietjat Air passenger flight between Bangkok, Thailand and Phnom Penh on March 16, Havannall praised the airline’s management for its “endeavours to initiate the flight route at a time when the whole world, including Cambodia and Thailand, has endured serious impacts from the crisis caused by Covid-19 pandemic and, especially, at a time of high fuel prices as a result of the conflict in Ukraine”.

“The presence of your company will contribute to offering travellers more options to fly between Cambodia and Thailand. There are currently six airlines operating this route, and the new flight we are launching today will further contribute directly to enhancing the close relationship in terms of trade and cultural and people’s exchanges between our two nations,” he said.

Thai Vietjet Air CEO Woranate Laprabang said: “After a long break from Covid-19, Thai VietJet is delighted to spread our wings our wings by expanding our international flight network once again. By connecting the two Southeast Asian economic hubs, the successful launch of Thai VietJet’s new Phnom Penh-Bangkok service is yet another milestone in the airline’s regional connectivity efforts.

“We are confident that the new service will play an important role in bridging people between the two countries, as well as contributing to the revival of tourism and the overall development of the economy,” he added.

According to Woranate, the airline will initially operate three weekly flights on the Phnom Penh-Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) route – every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Flights between Bangkok and the provinces of Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk are also planned for when the Covid-19 situation improves, he noted.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA) president Chhay Sivlin told The Post on March 16 that this was a “new positive sign” for the resumption of the tourism sector in the Kingdom after a lull of more than two years due to the spread of Covid-19.

She said the new Thai Vietjet Air route will provide many benefits for the Cambodian tourism sector, as guests from other countries can also travel to the Kingdom through the airline.

“In terms of routes, it is not new, but what is new is Thai Vietjet Air, a new airline that started operating flights to Cambodia for the first time, notably during the period when Covid-19 continued to spread,” she said.

According to Havannall, in 2019 just before the pandemic struck, Cambodia recorded 11.6 million air travellers, and 48 airlines operated a total of 113,400 flights to and from Cambodia.

But once the pandemic broke out, the situation started to change dramatically and negatively. Compared to 2019, air passengers dropped by 98 per cent to just about 270,000 air passengers in 2021, he said.

However, citing the success of the anti-vaccination campaigned spearheaded by the Royal Government of Cambodia and the full resumption of economic activities, Havannall said that “air travel in 2022 is set to bounce back and reach at least 35 per cent compared to pre-pandemic times, and emerge in 2025-2026 as predicted by various international airline agencies”.

Established in 2014, Thai Vietjet Air has been cooperating with VietJet to extend its flight network and provide more opportunities for travellers to discover Thailand and many other countries.

The airline is actively expanding its international flight network to many destinations across the Asia-Pacific, connecting Thailand with Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore and other top destinations in the region.

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