PHNOM PENH, 16 February 2016: China is the key driver behind Cambodia’s aviation expansion followed by neighbouring Thailand, according to a Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation’s recent analysis.
The centre commenting on airline traffic growth said Cambodia continues to experience rapid increases driven by demand from China. Passenger traffic in Cambodia has grown at a rate exceeding 10% for six consecutive years, with a strong 13% trend in 2015.
China is the main growth driver, with Chinese visits increasing by at least 20% for six consecutive years.
Siem Reap recorded 9% year over year growth in 2015 to 3.297 million passengers, while Phnom Penh recorded a 16% growth to 3.079 million.
“China has been the biggest driver of growth at both of Cambodia’s main airports. Visitor numbers from China have increased fivefold since 2009, when Cambodia recorded only 128,000 Chinese visitors,” the report said.
Visitor numbers from China increased 21% to 560,000 in 2014, marking the fifth consecutive year of growth exceeding 20%.
During January to November, last year, Chinese visitors increased 24% to 508,000. Annual growth almost certainly exceeded 20% for the sixth consecutive year.
China is the second largest source market for Cambodia’s fast-growing tourism sector, after Vietnam. Chinese residents accounted for 15% of all visitors to Cambodia in the first 11 months of 2015, while Vietnamese residents accounted for 21%. However, a large portion of Vietnamese residents travel to Cambodia by road as the two countries share a land border.
But Thailand is now the largest international destination, after China, for outbound traffic from Cambodia based on scheduled seat capacity, having recently overtaken Vietnam. Cambodia-Thailand airline capacity is currently up more than 20% year over year, the centre added.
Bangkok is a gateway for Cambodian travellers, but most passengers flying from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap to Bangkok are travelling beyond Thailand. Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways International particularly rely heavily on connecting traffic.
Bangkok Airways is the second largest foreign airline in Cambodia after Vietnam Airlines, currently operating six daily flights to Phnom Penh and five daily flights to Siem Reap.
Thai Airways International currently offers 17 weekly flights to Phnom Penh while Thai Smile came into the market, 1 February, with 10 weekly flights to Siem Reap.
Thai AirAsia is also one of the largest players in Cambodia’s international market, with three daily flights to Siem Reap and two daily flights to Phnom Penh.
Eight Chinese airlines fly to Cambodia: China Eastern; China Southern; Air China; Lucky Air; Shandong Airlines; Spring Airlines; Tianjin Airlines; and Xiamen Airlines.