Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chinese carrier launches direct flight to Sihanoukville

Chinese carrier launches direct flight to Sihanoukville

Tourists enjoy a Sihanoukville beach in 2012.
Tourists enjoy a Sihanoukville beach in 2012. Heng Chivoan

Chinese carrier launches direct flight to Sihanoukville

Lucky Air has launched direct flights from Kunming to Sihanoukville, becoming the first Chinese carrier to offer year-round regular scheduled service to the coastal Cambodian city, an airline executive said yesterday.

Kunming-based Lucky Air, part of Hainan Airlines Group, has a fleet of 25 aircraft. It operates a Boeing 737-800 on the 1,600-kilometre flight between Kunming in southern China and Sihanoukville on Cambodia’s southern coast.

“We operate this route twice a week,” said Kang Chunjian, vice general manager of sales and marketing at Lucky Air. “However, we will consider increasing flights to three times a week according to the market conditions.”

Lucky Air is one of three commercial carriers operating scheduled international flights out of Sihanoukville, and the only Chinese airline, according to Pichr Sopontara, routes development manager at Cambodia Airports.

Cambodia Angkor Air, the Kingdom’s flagship carrier, operates a weekly flight from the coastal city to Tianjin, while Korean-Cambodian airline Sky Angkor Air has a twice-weekly charter flight to Hangzhou.

Sky Angkor Air previously operated seasonal charter flights to Incheon, but these flights have ceased, Sopontara said.

Cambodia is encouraging airlines to add service to Sihanoukville’s single-runway international airport, which is being upgraded to handle up to 500,000 passengers a year by 2020.

The airport received its first international flight last year, and reported 12,233 international passenger arrivals during the first 10 months of the year.

Kang said Lucky Air’s route expansion to Cambodia, carried out in line with China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategic policy, recognises Sihanoukville as a “rising destination” whose beaches attract Chinese leisure tourists.

As one of the southernmost major Chinese cities, Kunming is a natural transit hub for Chinese travellers en route to these beaches, just 2.5 hours away by air.

According to Kang, Kunming is already China’s fourth-largest air gateway to Cambodia by passenger volume, after Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

He added that Lucky Air has no plans to operate flights to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap as these routes are already serviced by other Chinese airlines.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,