Emirates becomes the 37th foreign airline to offer flights to Phnom Penh as country’s economic growth continues to soar
The Dubai-based airline Emirates landed its first plane in Phnom Penh on Saturday, marking the launch of a new daily passenger service between the cities that includes a layover at Yangon International Airport. It is also the first time there has been a direct flight from Yangon to Phnom Penh since 2014.
At a press conference celebrating the new service on Monday, Badr Abbas, senior president of far east commercial operations for Emirates, said the airline had been attracted to Phnom Penh due to its rapid growth and “significant infrastructure development”, developments he said had helped the capital become a “significant and vibrant city for both business and leisure”.
“Cambodia’s economy is one of the fastest growing in Southeast Asia,” Abbas said. “Growth and significant infrastructure development in Phnom Penh [have] made it one of the most attractive economic and tourist destinations.”
The start of daily flights between Phnom Penh and Dubai is part of a wider expansion into the Southeast Asian market for Emirates. Last year, the airline launched new passenger routes to Cebu and Clark airports in the Philippines, Yangon in Myanmar and Hanoi in Vietnam.
In addition to “large flows” of tourists from Europe, Abbas said he expected “even more business travellers” from the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East and other parts of the world.
Abbas added that Emirates would spend time promoting Cambodia as a travel destination in markets where it was not a favoured choice among holidaymakers.
“By operating to Cambodia, we’d like to play a significant role in developing the economy and leisure tourism for Cambodia,” said Abbas. “When Emirates fly to any new destination, we create a new market for that…where Cambodia is not a popular destination, we will do a lot of marketing efforts to promote that destination.”
Emirates is the 37th foreign airline to offer flights to Phnom Penh International Airport, as Cambodia continues to reap the benefits of a flourishing tourism industry. Over seven million passengers passed through Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports in 2016, according to Cambodia Airports, which manages the country’s airports as part of a public-private partnership.
Eric Delobel, CEO of Cambodia Airports, said the country’s two main airports had plenty of room for more traffic after recent expansions.
“By doubling the capacity as we did last year, it shows that we have some extra capacity to welcome Emirates and other airlines in the upcoming months and years,” he said.
“We are investing not only in the capacity of the terminal, but we are also investing in human resources, we are investing in equipment, and we are investing in everything needed to welcome [more] aircraft and airlines [at the same standard as] Emirates.”