Anna Thompson, general manager of Southeast Asia for Cathay Pacific,
at the Dragonair office in Phnom Penh. Photo by: Sovan Philong
DRAGONAIR flights to Phnom Penh are becoming increasingly popular, and the airline is considering expanding to the tourism centre of Siem Reap, according to Cathay Pacific Southeast Asia General Manager Anna Thompson.
As part of the Cathay Pacific group, Dragonair uses Hong Kong as a hub, and currently flies to Phnom Penh 7 times per week.
“We have 1,372 seats a week from Phnom Penh to Hong Kong, which works out at 196 a day,” she said.
“It’s not just Cambodian nationals taking up the seats, foreign tourists are also important to the numbers.”
The carrier is also considering expansion plans for the Kingdom. “We are looking into the idea of flying to Siem Reap and have the flying rights to do so, yet we need to assess the market potential for tourism,” she said.
She also highlighted Cambodian authorities as particularly welcoming of expansion plans.
“We find in countries like Cambodia they’re quite open to increases in flights, as they want to increase tourism, whereas some other countries tend try to control it a little bit more,” she said. However, Dragonair Phnom Penh based Manager Nicolas Masse emphasised there were no concrete plans at this stage, as Phnom Penh currently serves as the main gateway to Cambodia for cargo, business and leisure.
Of the passengers flying to Hong Kong, around one third stay in the city, while the remainder head to the other 141 destinations the carrier serves, he said.
“We see a lot of traffic to Europe, which has become very popular, especially Paris and Amsterdam, while Australia continues to be a popular destination,” he said. “Toronto has a large Cambodian presence, leading to traffic in both directions, which is why we plan to increase the seat number this month.”
Other popular destinations include the United States; New York and Los Angeles, while in Asia; Manila, Jakarta, Osaka and Tokyo are all frequented by travellers originating in Cambodia.
Some 1,291 people residing in Hong Kong visited the Kingdom in the first quarter of 2011, along with 55,891 visitors originating in China – a 36.6 percent increase on the same period 2010, according to Cambodian Ministry of Tourism statistics.