PHNOM PENH, 11 June 2014: Cambodia Angkor Air has suspended plans to launch regional services until next year claiming tension in Vietnam and Thailand is to blame.
The airline’s chairman said he was deferring expansion due to strife in Thailand and Vietnam, which he claimed had reduced cross-border tourism.
Airline chairman, Tekret Samrach, did not clearly explain how a decline in cross border traffic from Vietnam and Thailand would impact on planned nonstop flights to Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore.
“Originally slated to open before the end of the year, tensions in Thailand and Vietnam resulted in lower cross border visitor numbers to Cambodia and means the planned flights will be reviewed again next year.”
The flights would have tapped tour operators primary selling package holidays to Cambodia from three key markets with a small percentage of local traffic on the outbound legs.
Once in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap the airline could offer tour operators flights to neighbouring countries as additional trips to the basic Cambodia itinerary.
“Normally, package tour visitors want to spend a few days here and then they want to visit Vietnam or Thailand. But now they don’t want to waste their money, as the situation in the two countries has not improved,” he said.
While selling travel beyond Cambodia to Thailand and Vietnam might be more difficult due to the current strife, there could be more basic reasons for the delays, that the airline was reluctant to share; such as inadequate fleet strength to sustain expansion to three new destinations, while maintaining production levels on domestic routes.
Currently the airline operates regional flights to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Guangzhou that fully uses its present fleet at almost maximum operating hours.
CAA blames neighbours