December 28, 2011

Philippines to establish direct air link with Cambodia


The country’s airlines will soon fly straight to destinations in Cambodia, one of the few members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that do not have direct air links with the Philippines.

During a board meeting held earlier this month, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) gave four airlines the signal to mount a total of 21 weekly flights between various points in Cambodia and the Philippines.

The air link is expected to boost trade and travel between the two countries, which are starting to rely more on their respective tourism sectors to create more jobs and boost growth.

The entitlements are a result of a 2009 air deal between Manila and Phnom Penh, paving the way for the establishment of direct air links between the two countries.

This is in line with the liberalization of Cambodia’s air rights regime, which has contributed significantly to the rapid growth of its tourism sector. From just 700,000 in 2003, the number of tourists going to Cambodia has grown to over 2.5 million at the end of 2010, government data showed.

The Aquino administration is now trying to replicate in the Philippines what Cambodia has done to boost its tourism industry, which was attributed to the enactment of an “open skies” regime that allowed foreign airlines to fly directly to Siem Reap, home of the Angkor

Temples, Cambodia’s top tourist draw.

From over three million at the end of 2010, the Philippine government now wants to increase tourist arrivals to as much as 10 million by 2016.

In its board meeting, the CAB gave Cebu Pacific five flights a week from Manila to points of its choice in Cambodia. Two flights were given to budget carrier Zest Airways, while AirPhil Express, the low-cost arm of flag carrier Philippine Airlines, was granted seven.

AirAsia Inc., the Philippine subsidiary of Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad, likewise received seven flights from its hub in Clark Freeport, Pampanga.

Also, the CAB gave out flight entitlements to Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.

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