National carrier Cambodia Angkor Air inaugurated a new daily flight from Phnom Penh to Vientiane and Hanoi yesterday as part of an expansion plan aimed at broadening its international services and revenue base.
Tekreth Samrach, chairman of Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA) and secretary of state for the Office of the Council of Ministers, said the new route will help the airline expand its market in the region.
“We cannot survive with only our local market; we need to increase international routes and that is why we have chosen these destinations,” he said.
The new flight departs Phnom Penh in the morning and flies to Vientiane and then Hanoi, before repeating the reverse route in the afternoon. The schedule minimises competition with Vietnam Airlines, which holds a 49 per cent share in CAA and code sharing agreement, and flies the same route at different times.
Samrach said Hanoi is a hub for Chinese, Japanese and South Korean tourists, and the new flight will bring in more visitors to Angkor Wat via the Cambodian capital.
Ang Kim Eang, president of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the new flight is an opportunity to attract more tourists to the country, as well as increase investments in the tourism sector.
“The route will also attract Laotians to Cambodia, as they want to see our coastal area because they don’t have one,” he added.
Cambodia Angkor Air currently flies to regional destinations including Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Guangzhou and Shanghai using its fleet of six aircrafts, which includes four Airbus 321s and two ATRs.
According to Samrach, the airline is planning further regional expansion and hopes to operate flights to Tokyo, Seoul and India in the future. He claimed there is huge potential to attract more Indian tourists to Angkor Wat, given its Hindu influences.
“If we can break through [the South Asian] market, we can get at least one million Indians to visit Cambodia,” he said.
Additionally, the airline will look to launch a direct flight to Hong Kong and Macau by the end of this year. If the route proves successful, according to Samrach, the airline would go ahead with its previously announced plan to buy one more Airbus aircraft and two ATRs.
“Cambodia Angkor Air has an action plan to serve 1 million passengers a year in 2015,” he said. “This year, we’ve already had around 1 million passengers and it could end up being more.”
“Tourists mostly go to Thailand and Singapore and then come to Angkor Wat. But in the future, I strongly believe that they will come to Angkor Wat first, and then visit other countries [in the region,]” he added.