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S’ville airport’s passenger subsidy scheme renewed

Tourists wait outside Sihanouk International Airport in Preah Sihanouk province.
Tourists wait outside Sihanouk International Airport in Preah Sihanouk province. Maximovich Nikolay

S’ville airport’s passenger subsidy scheme renewed

A marketing initiative rolled out last year that provides monetary incentives to airlines that use Sihanoukville’s airport for international flights has been credited in part with encouraging airlines to open new routes and increasing the amount of passenger traffic to the coastal airport.

Last January, Cambodia Airports, the French-owned firm that operates the Kingdom’s three international airports, began offering airlines $10 per passenger on international scheduled flights departing from Sihanouk International Airport, to a maximum of $1,000 per flight. The incentive program aimed at offsetting the costs for airlines establishing scheduled service to the little-used airfield.

Khek Norinda, spokesman of Cambodia Airports, said yesterday that the success of the program prompted the company to continue it for another year.

“We will continue to provide monetary incentives to airlines as it has proved successful in attracting new airlines to Sihanoukville and increased the number of visitors,” he said, adding the number of passengers that passed through the airport increased by 65 percent in 2016.

Norinda said Cambodia Airports disbursed around $200,000 to airlines last year under the scheme, which was launched in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and other tourism stakeholders to promote Cambodia’s coastal provinces.

“We have been targeting tour operators from South Korea, Japan, France and Hong Kong to promote Cambodia as a sea destination so that they could include the country’s beaches in their tour packages,” he said.

Lim Kao, deputy director of Cambodian Angkor Air, said the marketing initiative was instrumental in the flag carrier’s decision to launch direct flights from Sihanoukville to Ho Chi Minh City last June.

He said the incentive scheme has allowed Cambodia Angkor Air to offer attractive ticket prices, encouraging more tourists to visit Sihanoukville and other coastal areas.

“We can use the monetary incentive that we receive to promote tickets in the low season and to attract more tourists to visit the coastal provinces,” he said.

Sihanouk International Airport received an estimated 150,000 passengers in 2016, compared to 94,630 in 2015 – though the figures do not break down passengers by domestic or international flights.

Last month, Cambodia Airports broke ground on a renovation project aimed at increasing the airport’s capacity to handle 500,000 passengers per year.

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