PHNOM PENH, 30 November 2015: Cambodia and Russia signed an air transport services agreement, last week, that will facilitate direct flights between the two countries.
Phnom Penh Post reported representatives from both countries signed the agreement in the presence of Prime Minister Hun Sen and visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the Peace Palace.
There have been no direct flights between the two countries since Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot, ended flights between Moscow and Phnom Penh in the early 1990s. Currently, travellers must fly via neighbouring countries such as Vietnam or Thailand.
State-owned Cambodia Angkor Airlines vice chief executive, Lim Kao, was quoted saying that while direct flights would attract more Russian tourists, the airline was not considering a flight to Russia.
It would require a major purchase in long-haul aircraft, which would be a departure from the airline’s business model of serving ASEAN destinations.
However, he said CAA would target Russian tourists with more flights to Vietnam, from its Phnom Penh base once there was enough demand and it intends to start a new flight from Cam Ranh Bay in southeast Vietnam to Siem Reap next year.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents’ chairman in Siem Reap, Phav Proeun, said many Russian tourists travel to Cambodia by taking connecting flights from Thailand.
“If there is a direct flight from Russia, it would benefit the country,” he said.
For January to September this year, there were 38,644 Russian tourists travel to Cambodia declining 53.7% from 83,405 visits during the same period last year, according to Ministry of Tourism data.