Cambodia Angkor Air, the national flag carrier airline, on April 5 launched a direct flight from the east-central Chinese city of Zhengzhou to Phnom Penh, according to a senior aviation official.
State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha lauded the launch as a step forward in the resumption of direct air routes between Cambodia and China after a hiatus of more than two years due to Covid-19.
He told The Post that prior to Covid-19, there had been nonstop flights between the Kingdom and “more than 30” Chinese cities.
“During 2019, we had a lot of flights from China, but since the Covid-19 outbreak, only [routes to] one or two cities are left. But now, flights from Chinese cities to Cambodia are resuming, in line with Chinese policy, signalling a new positive direction for Cambodia’s aviation and tourism sectors,” Chansereyvutha said.
He said that most of the flag carrier’s passengers are Chinese nationals that own businesses in Cambodia or work for Chinese companies in the Kingdom, adding that the numbers of flights in and out of Zhengzhou and airlines operating in the city are still limited.
As of April 6, the Cambodia Angkor Air website did not mention a Zhengzhou-Phnom Penh route, but it did advertise a flight K6 894 in the opposite direction, offered on five specific days – on April 5 and every other Tuesday until May 31. The site also includes a detailed guide on the associated regulations.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Ho Vandy sees a ray of hope for the Kingdom’s tourism sector, although he concedes that tourist arrivals from Zhengzhou prior to the Covid-19 crisis had been far fewer than those from cities at the top of the list, such as Guangzhou, Kunming and Shanghai.
Still, Vandy argued, the new route may attract a lot of first-time visitors to the Kingdom, as it further opens its doors to fully-vaccinated foreign tourists.
Vandy also called for China and other jurisdictions to further roll back Covid-19 restrictions on arrivals and departures for the comfort of travellers and in the interest of the industry.
He cited Cambodia’s March 17 move as an example, when the Kingdom scrapped its coronavirus testing requirements on arrivals and reinstated its visa-on-arrival programme.
Vandy also appealed to Beijing to clamp down on the sale of gambling tourism packages and the so-called “Zero Package Tours” to Cambodia, which he said tarnish the reputation of Cambodia.