New scheduled flights between Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh will probably be launched soon, and Sihanoukville-Siem Reap flights will operate daily instead of three times a week, an industry leader says.
These changes by Cambodia Angkor Air had a “high chance” of taking off in April to coincide with the lunar new year, provided market studies went smoothly, Tek Reth Samrach, state secretary of the Council of Ministers, said yesterday.
“Our intention is to develop tourism in Sihanoukville,” Samrach said.
“We also want to create a means of connecting Angkor Wat to the beach [in Sihanoukville] and the capital.”
The 45-minute flights between Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh will initially operate three times a week.
A one-way ticket was expected to cost between $60 and $80, Anna Spencer, the owner of ANA Travel, told the Post.
The new flights represent a change from Cambodia Angkor Air’s original plan to pair Sihanoukville with Saigon.
In the end, Phnom Penh emerged as a more suitable partner.
“If we linked Sihanoukville to Saigon, we would serve only foreigners,” Samrach, who is also Cambodia Angkor Air’s chairman, said.
“By linking Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh instead, we can add local passengers as well.”
But judging by travel trends, the number of locals attracted to fly the new route would probably be limited, Spencer said.
According to Spencer, about 1,000 foreign passengers fly the Sihanoukville-Siem Reap route each way during a busy month, but only two or three locals use the flights.
Local people still preferred travelling by bus on such routes because it was cheaper, she said.
The second change — an increase in the frequency of Sihanoukville-Siem Reap flights — will help meet high demand on that route during peak periods.
“Every flight is full right now, because it’s the high season,” Spencer said.
Ultimately, however, her business would depend on the state of the economy — especially in Europe, where most tourists came from, she said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Low Wei Xiang at [email protected]