The historic direct flight from Cambodia to New Delhi, India, operated by Cambodia Angkor Air, commenced on June 16. Unfortunately, however, direct flights with Vientiane, Laos have been put on hold.

The first flight to New Delhi carried Cambodian passengers and delegates to the inaugural "Cambodia-India Tourism Year 2024" event, held on June 17 in New Delhi.

"Historic event! Direct flights between Cambodia and India have been officially launched by Deputy Prime Minister Neth Savoeun and Indian Ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Khobragade,” said a June 16 social media post by the Indian Embassy in Cambodia.

"The event also marks the start of the first tourism year, designed to promote and connect the people of the two countries,” it continued.

The Ministry of Tourism said that the flight also featured special guests from Cambodia, a delegation from the ministry, who led an art group of cultural performers from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to inaugurate the event.

State-run media outlet AKP said the flight is operated four times weekly, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Savoeun, also chairman of the National Committee for Civil Aviation Security, was quoted by AKP as saying that the expected success of the direct flight is based on the religious similarities between Cambodia and India, the healthcare needs of the people and the historical relationship between the two countries. He said the flight will drive tourism and economic links between the two nations.

While the launch of flights to India is good news, Lao Airlines has decided to suspend direct flights between Laos and Cambodia starting June 16, due to the small number of passengers utilising the route. The decision comes just less than three months after operations began in March.

The suspension was due to a shortage of customers, which he attributed to market and trade factors that made the revenue from the flight inconsistent with the company's expenses.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesperson for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), told The Post on June 17 that, according to a notification from Lao Airlines, "They reviewed the business and financial situation and found that the flight had not met its market obligations as expected due to a drop in the number of passengers. So they decided to suspend until market, trade and economic factors improved,” he said.

A passenger, who asked not to be named, boarded a flight with Lao Airlines last week and reported that the aircraft was small, with a capacity of less than 100 people. However, during his journey, there were only about 10 passengers on board.