PHNOM PENH, 13 December 2018: More airlines are flying to Cambodia’s three main airports prompting officials to forecast the year will close with passenger traffic exceeding 10 million.
Cambodia Airports that manages three airports in the country says passenger traffic could increase by 13%, compared with 2017 when traffic reached 8.8 million.
The forecast covers both domestic and international passenger traffic at Phnom Penh International Airport, Siem Reap International Airport and Preah Sihanouk International Airport, Cambodia Airports CEO told Voice of America in Cambodia on Wednesday.
A joint venture with the French-based Vinci Corporation, Cambodia Airports reports that the three airports serve over 55 destinations and around 700 flights per week.
Cambodia Airports’ October data showed a 25% increase in passenger traffic. Sihanouk International Airport grew by a massive 161%, albeit from a small starting base, when compared with the same period last year.
Phnom Penh experienced a respectable 37% growth in passengers, while Siem Reap reported a 2% boost.
Looking at the last two months Cambodia Airports reports several airlines have increased service.
Phnom Penh International Airport has seen three airlines increase routes from Cambodia to four different Chinese cities.
Xiamen Airlines began daily service to Phnom Penh and Spring Airlines started offering four weekly flights out of the capital to Shantou.
China Eastern Airlines also increased flights, from one to two daily between Phnom Penh and Shanghai and from three weekly to daily flights between Phnom Penh and Kunming.
Out of Siem Reap, Lucky Air launched three weekly flights to Kunming and Hong Kong Express Airways increased to six flights weekly.
Sihanouk International Airport is also attracting more flights mainly from Chinese cities. Ruili Airlines now offers daily flights from Fuzhou and twice daily flights from Kunming, while Sichuan Airlines started twice weekly flights from Chongqing and Hainan Airlines launched twice weekly flights from Shenzhen.
AirAsia has also introduced daily flights to Sihanoukville from Kuala Lumpur.
Last year, income from the airports accounted for 17% of the country’s total gross domestic product and supported more than 1.7 million jobs.
Ministry of Tourism director Kong Sopheareak, noted that tourist arrivals, January to October this year, reached 3 million.
By 2020 the government is confidant annual tourists arrivals will pass the 7 million mark.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, president Chhay Sivlin was quoted by VOA saying there was still a lack of tourism infrastructure that was hampering growth.
“The more tourists there are, the more challenging it is,” he said. “We don’t have enough human resources; we need to improve our infrastructure, expand the roads, expand tour packages, create more tourist attractions and tourist products.”
Under a public-private partnership signed with the Royal Government of Cambodia in 1995, Cambodia Airports holds the concession for the development and management of Cambodia’s international airports serving the capital city of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and the port city and beach resort of Sihanoukville.
The shareholders of Cambodia Airports are France’s VINCI Airports (70%) and Muhibbah Masteron Cambodia (30%), a Malaysian-Cambodian joint venture.
In 2017, passenger traffic through Cambodia’s international airports totalled 8.8 million, 4.2 million each for Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports.
From a low base but experiencing triple-digit growth, Sihanouk International Airport handled 338,000 passengers.