Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vietnam Airlines launches new route

Vietnam Airlines launches new route

Vietnam Airlines launches new route

Vietnam Airlines announced that their second Trans-Indochina air route was operational

on November 7. They now offer five direct flights a week between Hanoi, Luang Prabang,

and Siem Reap.

The new air route, combined with Vietnam Airlines' existing Trans-Indochina route

which offers direct flights between Hanoi, Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh

City means that they now operate a "wide network in Indochina, connecting key

world heritage sites and major cities in the region," company officials said.

"We hope that our new service will contribute to the continuing development

of tourism in the region and to the prosperity and economic development of Cambodia

by bringing more tourists to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh," said Mai Xuan Long,

General Manager of Vietnam Airlines Cambodia.

"It is a policy and strategy of Vietnam Airlines to turn these three countries

into one tourist destination."

Vietnam Airlines began flying to Siem Reap in 2000, and added Luang Prabang to their

list of 26 international destinations in 2006. Their services are primarily targeted

at encouraging more international tourists to travel within South East Asia, and

the company said they did not anticipate the new route having much impact on the

number of Vietnamese tourists coming to Cambodia or vice versa.

"Vietnam and Cambodia are not only linked by flights, there are roads too and

as the roads get better more Vietnamese tourists come to Cambodia in this way,"

said Xuan Long. "Most of our clients are from other countries - people on combined

tours. For example, we carry a lot of Japanese, Korean, German tourists who visit

Vietnam and then extend their tour to Cambodia and Laos. We hope that the availability

of direct flights between these popular tourist destinations will encourage tourists

to spend more time and visit more destinations in the region."

Vietnam Airlines' fleet does not contain any Antonovs - which are currently banned

from flying in Cambodia due to a number of recent plane crashes.

"We have a very modern fleet," said Xuan Long. "This helps us to ensure

we have the highest possible safety and security standards."

The company has sought out and trained local mechanics and engineers in Vietnam,

meaning that the majority of maintenance work on their fleet is now being carried

out in Vietnam by their own employees.

Cambodia's Secretary of State at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA),

Mao Havonel, said at the launch of the new route in Siem Reap on 7 November, that

he wanted to "thank Vietnam Airlines for operating in Cambodia and helping to

develop better tourist infrastructure between three neighbouring countries in the

Mekong sub region."

Vietnam Airlines is a state owned company which has been operating in Cambodia for

over 20 years. Their total passenger sales for 2006 were over $1 million and they

are aiming to go public and float on the Vietnamese stock market in 2008, Xuan Long

said.

"We want to be a developed regional carrier," he said. "We can't really

compete with Singapore Air or even Thai Air at the moment, but in the South East

Asian region we are a good airline. We will continue to invest in our fleet and in

our human resources, and to cooperate with the tourism industries in all countries

to attract more tourists to the region."

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