Siem Reap International Airport on August 8 welcomed the first Airbus-330 aircraft since the Covid-19 pandemic was recognised, as the operator reiterated that the airport, which serves visitors to the Kingdom’s famed Angkor Archaeological Park, is still open to flights as usual.

The onset of the global health crisis last year slowed flights at the airport to a trickle, and the third coronavirus outbreak – dubbed the “February 20 community event” marking the date it was first detected – further added to the woes, Cambodia Airports noted in a Facebook post on August 9.

However, a glimmer of hope appeared on the horizon on August 8 as an Airbus-330 flying from Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical hub Basel made a brief stop at Siem Reap International Airport, before embarking for Hong Kong later that day, it said.

“Seeing the A-330 landing and taking-off was the silver lining for the whole airport community that has been heavily impacted by the disruption of activities. It is also a testament to the readiness of the airport’s teams and authorities to cater to their customers.

“The airport is fully open and has deployed health safety measures for its stakeholders. In the near coming days, almost 100 per cent of its workers are expected to be fully inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine,” Cambodia Airports said.

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha told The Post that all international airports were operating normally and that the Airbus-330 touching down in Siem Reap was a “positive sign” for Cambodia’s aviation sector.

“We’ve never adopted a policy to close international airports in Cambodia, but some have been put out of operation merely due to the fact that there were no flights.

“Each airport must assess its circumstances, and if so required, the company [Cambodia Airports] is well within reason to cut large numbers of staff or reduce unnecessary expenses such as water and electricity, and hire permanent staff when there are requests for planes to land – those staff members will serve them.”

Cambodia welcomed 108,000 international tourists in the first half of 2021, down 90.8 per cent from 1.18 million in the same period of 2020, the National Bank of Cambodia noted in its first-half report.