April will mark the beginning of a new Philippine Airlines (PAL) route travelling direct from the Philippines capital Manila, to Phnom Penh here in the Kingdom.
PAL is launching the new route for a number of reasons. Not least to provide a quick and easy route back and forth for the substantial Filipino expatriate community residing in Phnom Penh.
Of the seven thousand or so Filipinos currently residing in the Kingdom, eighty per cent live in Phnom Penh. Previously getting to the Philippines from Cambodia required a stopover and change of aircraft, resulting in travel times of more than six or seven hours, the new PAL route will take two and a half hours.
While PAL’s primary concern is to facilitate increased business for their new Cambodia-Philippines route, PAL also see opportunities for their customers in as much as this emerging route can help to foster trade and tourism as well as increasing and developing investments between the countries.
“One thing for sure we are here to foster trade and tourism between the two countries and we would definitely be supporting the Kingdom of Cambodia to bring in more tourists to your beautiful country,” said vice president of sales at PAL, Ryan T Uy.
The Ambassador of the Philippines to Cambodia, Christopher B Montero also stated, that “this venture will help increase Cambodia’s connections to the rest of the world and we are eager to do our part to promote tourist travel and economic exchanges”, adding “we recognise that the Kingdom of Cambodia is a rich tourist haven, and that Phnom Penh is the hub of a growing economy. PAL will work with the authorities to promote more tourists and business travel to your wonderful country”.
Cambodia and the Philippines have had trade relations as far back as the sixth century. But modern co-operative agreements have also been signed in a variety of sectors from agriculture and agribusiness, through to enhanced economic and trade agreements, tourism, and promotion and protection of investments.
With a high predicted load factor from the outset, PAL considers this a great opportunity for these economic relationships to develop, “we are expecting to have a load factor of . . . around 77 per cent average load factor for this new Philippines airline flight”.
PAL have also accounted for increased demand for the route with Uy adding, “again if we see a very strong demand we can easily upgrade the aircraft to A321 [that] will give us more seats”.
Within Cambodia PAL can see plenty of opportunity for growth. The aviation sector in Cambodia is booming and thanks to treaties like the Cape Town Convention expansion of infrastructure in the sector has been made even more accessible for Cambodia. Nowhere is that growth more visible than in Siem Reap.
Uy remarked, “We always study possible routes that we can serve, for now we would like to take it one step at a time so we would like to develop the Phnom Penh route, yes we are fully aware that there is demand for Siem Reap, we are constantly reviewing commercial viability of operating a set route”.
But the growth potential that PAL see in Cambodia is not limited to Siem Reap, Uy continued “other than Siem Reap we are also aware that there are other emerging destinations in the Kingdom of Cambodia … all these new routes are being reviewed and considered”. Most prominent on the list of other emerging destinations in Cambodia for PAL was Sihanoukville.
In terms of trade and tourism within the Philippines, from Manila, PAL provides domestic flights in the Philippines to all major cities, opening up the myriad of islands and beaches to Cambodian tourists, and ease of access to the Philippines major business destinations.
Montero pointed out, as members of Asean Cambodian tourists to the Philippines are entitled to stay up to thirty days without the need for a visa as a result of the Asean Open Skies Policy.
President and Chief Operations Officer at PAL, Jamie Bautista added “We hope this will help strengthen the robust friendship and Asean solidarity that makes the Philippines-Cambodia relationship special”.