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Fifth freedom to open Kingdom’s airspace

A Hong Kong-based Dragonair jetliner flies over Phnom Penh after taking off from the capital’s airport last year.
A Hong Kong-based Dragonair jetliner flies over Phnom Penh after taking off from the capital’s airport last year. Vireak Mai

Fifth freedom to open Kingdom’s airspace

The National Assembly yesterday approved a draft law on the implementation of the fifth freedom of the air, a commercial aviation right that grants airlines the privilege of using Cambodian airports as a stop-over on scheduled flights between their home country and another country.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, spokesman at State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said the aviation body successfully lobbied to have the National Assembly approve the aviation protocol, which he said will encourage the growth and development of Cambodia’s aviation sector. Fifth freedom flights will improve air connectivity, increase air traffic and lead to better service quality, he said.

“Today we got approval to open the fifth freedom of the air,” Vutha said. “This will help us to open new markets and attract airline companies, encouraging them to fly to our country.”

The passage of the fifth freedom is part of the ASEAN Open Skies policy, which aims to fully liberalise air travel in the region, and its implementation is expected to increase overall air traffic.

Vutha said without a fifth freedom protocol, foreign commercial airlines arriving at Phnom Penh airport were usually required to return to their point of origin. Now they are free to carry on to other destinations.

“The fifth freedom of the air is what that many airlines companies prefer so that they can fly, for instance, to Phnom Penh and then on to Siem Reap, Vietnam or Laos,” he said.

He added that the draft law would be submitted to the Senate for approval, and the SSCA would inform ASEAN of any change in status.

Khek Norinda, communications and public relations director of Cambodia Airports, said the approval of fifth freedom flights was expected to benefit the Kingdom’s airline sector and the economy as a whole.

“Until further assessment on the impacts of fifth freedom for Cambodia’s aviation landscape is made, it is generally agreed that its implementation could be conducive to more traffic and to attracting more airlines, for the benefits of passengers and a country’s economy,” he said.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said it is still too early to say what impact the protocol would have on Cambodia’s aviation sector, but anything that brings more air traffic was bound to be a positive.

“Whenever we have more airlines operating and increase flight schedules it makes it more convenient for tourists to travel and this will contribute to boosting the tourism sector of our country,” Kim Eang said.

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