Cambodia sees airport traffic grow by 135% in four years; but down 3% in 2008

Image: Cambodia
Siem Reap is the airport closest to Angkor Wat the iconic temple complex and World Heritage site built in the 12th century.

In 2007 Cambodia’s two international airports at Phnom Penh (PNH) and Siem Reap (REP) handled 3.3 million passengers, representing growth of almost 25% on the previous year. Since 2003 combined traffic at the two airports has grown by 135% with passenger numbers at Siem Reap overtaking Phnom Penh for the first time in 2006. Siem Reap is the airport closest to Angkor Wat the iconic temple complex and World Heritage site built in the 12th century and a major tourist attraction.

Chart: Cambodian airport traffic 1998-2008 (Annual passengers (millions))
Source: Cambodia International Airports

The seasonality profile of Cambodia’s airports reflects the local tropical monsoon climate. The rainy season runs from May to November and the dry season from December to April. As a result tourists are much more likely to visit the country in ‘winter’ when the weather is more accommodating.

Chart: Cambodian airport seasonality (Monthly passengers)
Source: Cambodia International Airports

Traffic figures released for 2008 reveal that traffic at Phnom Penh is continuing to grow by around 10%; passenger numbers at Siem Reap look likely to fall slightly in 2008.

Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City are leading destinations

Based on current schedule data the leading destinations with links to/from Cambodia are Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. In 2007 Bangkok was the number one destination from Phnom Penh and ranked second at Siem Reap. Ho Chi Minh City was the leading route from Siem Reap and ranked fifth at Phnom Penh. The top five routes as measured by annual passenger numbers at each airport are summarised below.

From Phom Penh 2006 2007 From Siem Reap 2006 2007
Bangkok 390,057 423,947 Ho Chi Minh 304,360 330,390
Kuala Lumpur 151,406 189,263 Bangkok 276,598 310,537
Singapore 159,132 166,135 Seoul 68,298 208,315
Taipei 117,780 147,660 Hanoi 193,699 194,129
Ho Chi Minh 104,421 108,823 Taipei 75,904 138,983
Source: Cambodia International Airports

The leading nationalities at Phnom Penh in 2007 were Chinese, American, Korean, Malaysian and Taiwanese. At Siem Reap the leading nationalities were Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, American and French.
Scheduled flights are currently limited to regional Asian services but in December 2007 Air Finland began operating charter flights from Stockholm for the more adventurous tourist.

Two airlines account for 40% of capacity

Just two airlines account for over 40% of all scheduled capacity at Cambodia’s two main airports. Bangkok Airways lead the way with flights from both airports to Bangkok as well as operating five daily domestic flights between Cambodia’s two airports. Vietnam Airlines operates five routes including two to Ventiane and Luang Prabang in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

Several LCCs operating in the region include Cambodia in their networks. AirAsia and Thai AirAsia operate to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok respectively while JetStar Asia operates to Singapore. JetStar Pacific serves Siem Reap from Ho Chi Minh City. Local carrier Siem Reap Airways International ceased operating on 1 December 2008. It had operated a couple of A320s on domestic and short-haul international services.

blue.jpgThird airport being developed at Sihanoukville

In 2007 airport operations resumed at Sihanoukville (KOS), a bustling port city and beach resort. The airport is to be the engine for the city’s expansion and the Cambodian airport authority that runs all three airports believes the airport is likely to become the busiest Cambodian airport in the future. At present there are no scheduled services from the airport.

popart.jpgWilde about Cambodia

Back in 1981 English pop singer Kim Wilde had a somewhat unlikely European hit with a song called “Cambodia”. It reached #1 in Denmark, France, Sweden and Switzerland and was a Top 20 hit in nine other countries including South Africa.



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