Air arrivals soar higher

Tourists walk out of Phnom Penh International Airport earlier this year.
Tourists walk out of Phnom Penh International Airport earlier this year. Heng Chivoan

Air traffic for Cambodia’s three international airports increased by 23 percent in the first six months of the year, driven largely by growing Chinese tourism and the increased number of international flights to Sihanoukville’s airport, a spokesman for the company that operates the Kingdom’s three international airports said yesterday.

Khek Norinda, communications director of Cambodia Airports, said passenger arrivals at airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville surged during the first six months of the year, increasing by 23 percent compared to the same period in 2016. Total passenger arrivals reached 4.2 million during the first semester, he said.

Norinda said arrivals at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports during the first semester grew by 20.3 and 20.7 percent year-on-year, respectively. He attributed the strong growth to a marked increase in Chinese arrivals, as well as increased visits from other countries in the region.

“The number of passengers travelling from Asean countries is proof of the sustained growth in the airline industry,” he said.

People board a Bassaka Air flight traveling to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh International Airport last year.
People board a Bassaka Air flight traveling to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh International Airport last year. Scott Howes

Sihanoukville’s international airport saw the largest growth in the first semester of the year, with a 221 percent year-on-year increase in passenger arrivals, though starting from a low base.

The growth followed the addition of several new international connections to the coastal city in the previous months, and the destination has become increasingly popular with both domestic and Asean tourists, Norinda explained.

“The appetite for travel from the rising middle class in Asean will further fuel growth in the air transport industry,” he said. “Cambodia has key assets to capture that market, including diversified tourism sites, business opportunities and also an efficient airport system.”

Norinda added that air cargo traffic also witnessed robust growth, with a 34 percent year-on-year increase during the first six months of 2017. He attributed the growth to the country’s positive economic environment and the increased numbers of cargo carriers operating out of Phnom Penh’s international airport.

Figures from the Ministry of Tourism show a total of 2.3 million foreign tourists visited Cambodia during the first five months of the year. Some 1.4 million, or about 61 percent, of arrivals were by air.