Air fares between Cambodia and China or the other nine ASEAN countries have on average dropped from 20 to more than 50 per cent since the first quarter of this year, as countries around the region relax Covid-19 restrictions, according to a senior civil aviation official.

In an extreme example, return trips from one of a number of Chinese cities to Cambodia that had been in excess of $10,000, during darker times of the pandemic, was subsequently recorded at $6,000, then $3,000, and have now dropped to just over $1,000, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha told The Post on September 14.

He pinned the decline in the aforementioned price primarily on China’s apparent gradual reopening and an increase in number of flights with Cambodia, noting that there are now 30 direct flights weekly between them – 15 in either direction – up precisely five-fold from July.

He added that Cambodia’s effective Covid-19 management and economic reopening efforts have considerably driven up the number of domestic and international flights to the Kingdom, which has triggered a significant downtrend in air fares to and from regional destinations.

Meanwhile, air fares between Cambodia and ASEAN or European countries have dipped by around 20-35 per cent, correlating with, among other things, levels of Covid-19 restrictions in place at a particular time, and the overall socio-economic situation at and near the destination, he said, explaining that fares to and from localities with more lax pandemic rules and more connecting flights available will generally be lower.

However, Chansereyvutha cautioned that the uncertainty about future fuel prices could lead to negative effects on air fares.

PTM Travel & Tours Co Ltd business director Sar Sarin, on the other hand, said air fares between Cambodia and other ASEAN countries had declined 20-30 per cent from the quarter ended March 31.

He predicted that fares would fall further as oil prices moderate and global economic growth improves, and that tickets to China would only become cheaper as the country further reopens and dials back its once “very tight” travel restrictions.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia received 998,272 international visitors in the first eight months of 2022, up 720 per cent year-on-year, of which 39.73 per cent or 396,591 arrived by air, marking a 595 per cent increase.