IndiGo direct flights to Cambodia approved

PHNOM PENH: The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) has announced that IndiGo Airlines has been approved by the Indian government to start direct flights to Cambodia soon, coinciding with national flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Air’s preparations to launch flights to India.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, undersecretary of state and spokesperson for the SSCA, told The Post on March 13 that following encouragement from both sides, there has been a significant increase in bilateral tourism, trade and investment.

He confirmed that both airlines have obtained government approval to operate direct flights between the two countries.

“New routes between India and Cambodia have been established with the approval of the relevant Indian authorities, who have already approved the flights of both airlines. These include IndiGo Airlines and Cambodia Angkor Air,” he said.

Chanserey Vutha noted that each airline must adhere to the specific conditions and requirements of their respective country.

He said Cambodia Angkor Air is in the process of completing these formalities, and barring any changes, expects flights to commence between May and June this year.

“For IndiGo, the situation remains uncertain for now as it is in the process of meeting its requirements. From our side, we are prepared to grant permission. We are awaiting the commencement of its actual flights. Before this can happen, IndiGo must apply for a landing permit and submit its flight schedules,” he said.

IndiGo Airlines, a low-cost carrier and India’s largest airline by passengers carried and fleet size, has thus far received approval for a time slot from Cambodia’s authorities for flights from Delhi to Siem Reap province, the Kingdom’s main tourist destination.

Sar Sarin, vice-president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), highlighted the need for Cambodia to expand its range of restaurants offering Indian cuisine, given the current limited options.

“India represents a new market for Cambodia, owing to its large population, similar to that of China. Therefore, we need to devise the right strategies to attract them, though we have not yet determined the exact timing for their flights,” he said.

“Our shared cultural similarities will present a strong attraction for Indian tourists once direct flights commence,” he added.

Chanserey Vutha noted the steady increase in air travel within Cambodia, with nearly 170 daily flights at its three international airports as of the end of February.

The Ministry of Tourism reported that in 2023, Cambodia welcomed 5.45 million foreign tourists, a 139.5% increase from 2022, including 68,836 Indian visitors, up 102.4%. Indian tourists ranked 14th in terms of visitor numbers, following travellers from Thailand, Vietnam, China and Laos.

According to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), bilateral trade between Cambodia and India amounted to US$485.7 million in 2023, a 10.4% increase from 2022. The Kingdom exported goods worth $293.06 million to India, marking a 49% increase, while imports from the South Asian nation decreased by 20.8%, amounting to $192.64 million.

India currently ranks as Cambodia’s 17th-largest trading partner, as per the GDCE.

The record number of international tourists to Cambodia was in 2019, just before the pandemic, with 6.61 million visitors, a 6.6% rise over 2018. Of these, 75,286 were from India, an increase of 14.3%, as per the ministry. - The Phnom Penh Post/ANN

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