Boost for Cambodia’s tourism
Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, says Asia Atlantic Airlines’ upcoming flights that will connect Thailand, Cambodia and Japan will benefit the country’s tourism industry.
The airline will fly from Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and stop in Phnom Penh before flying to Toyko’ Narita, with full traffic rights.
The three weekly flights start 2 September and a service stopping in Siem Reap with four weekly flights will start 1 October.
The prime minister told local media that the new direct flights will encourage the country’s tourism and boost Japanese investment in Cambodia.
He confirmed he had authorised the government’s Secretariat of Civil Aviation to approve direct flights between the two countries to foster more Japanese investment.
Asia Atlantic will be the 24th airline to serve Cambodia.
Cambodia’s two main international airports, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, commenced a USD100 million redevelopment in January to raise the capacity ceiling as there are signs that both airports are getting crowded during peak hours.
Capacity will double to 5 million passengers a year when the projects are completed in 2016.
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents president, Ang Kim Eang, welcomed Asia Atlantic’s announcement, but raised concerns over the airline’s fare pricing and Japan’s strict visa application process.
“The flights will provide a great opportunity for tourism exchange,” he said, “But the price for economy class at USD 1,146 may be too expensive for Cambodians; it’s the same price as flying to Europe.”
“Also, Japan’s visa application are very strict and complicated,” he said.
Basic return economy fares will cost more than USD 1,100 after taxes, while business class fares will be around USD2,240 return.
Asia Atlantic will be the first airline to launch direct flights between the two countries, beating the kingdom’s flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air and even AirAsia.
HIS Cambodia Travel senior sales employee, Caea Molika, added there are no plans to offer first-class seats, just economy, premium economy and business.
From 21 July, 30 economy seats will sold at a roundtrip fare of USD 346 from Phnom Penh.
The airline has full traffic rights with fifth freedom rights to sell both sector and through fares. The emphasis will be on flying Japanese on package tours that stop in Cambodia and then visit Thailand.
Asia Atlantic Airlines is a charter airline headquartered in Bangkok, Thailand. It is a joint venture between a Japanese travel agent HIS and Thai hotel and real estate investor, Baiyoke Group.
HIS sells two-way tours both out of Japan to Southeast Asia and also to Japan a business that has boomed since Japan awarded visa-free entry to specific ASEAN nations such as Malaysia and Thailand.
Using a Boeing 767 with 217 seat the airline will fly to both Japan and South Korea, from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi. It will fly to Tokyo Narita, Osaka and Kansai in Japan and Incheon International airports in South Korea.