PHNOM PENH, 30 December 2016: A direct flight connecting Cambodia and Indonesia remains in the pipeline, although airlines have told officials it will depend on commercial viability and the chances of success are remote.
Khmer Time quoted the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation spokesman, Sinn Chan Sereyvutha, saying the Cambodian government has already signed an MoU with Indonesia to pave the way for direct flights between the two countries, but market factors are not positive and airlines are not convinced there is enough traffic.
“The main problem for Indonesian airlines is market demand, but there are still choices for them as they can also enter into a codeshare with other airlines to save costs.”
Less than 5,000 Cambodians visit Indonesia annually, but about 50,000 Indonesians visit Cambodia, the report said.
More needs to be done to create awareness among consumers and travel agencies in the Indonesia through focused promotional campaigns. Cambodia may have to waive landing and airport fees to reduce launch costs for charter flights.
If Cambodia funded the cost of tour operator brochures and sales promotions in Indonesia that would reduce the cost of the charter holidays. Once the charter flights are successful, scheduled airlines will follow. But which destination? Leisure travellers would be attracted to Siem Reap, while business travellers would want a service to Phnom Penh.
In April, last year, Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen and Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, discussed establishing a direct airline link during a meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum East Asia in Jakarta.
But it was never their call. It’s in the hands of the airlines and so far, preliminary studies indicated there was not enough traffic or potential to justify the financial risk of establishing services. At least four flights a week would be needed to attract business travellers. Jakarta is the key market to sell travel to ASEAN destinations, but Phnom Penh would mainly be of interest to investors, business travellers and diplomats.
For European leisure travellers a flight from Siem Reap or Phnom Penh to Bali would be a better option that a flight to Jakarta.
Last year, Cambodia attracted 43,147 Indonesian travellers, up 21.0% from 35,655 visits in 2014, according to Statistics and Tourism Information Department data.