ASEAN is a strong advocate to Open Skies across their political entity, not only for ASEAN based air carriers but also for foreign carriers. Cambodia has been one of the most open markets so far to foreign airlines, with the government understanding fully the benefits to have as many air carriers as possible linking the Kingdom to the rest of the world. Siem Reap is today linked to 27 destinations, while Phnom Penh is directly connected to 19 cities around the world. Most recently, new flights started between Sihanoukville and Ho Chi Minh City by Cambodia Angkor Air, which already announced plans to reopen flights from Phnom Penh to the Southern Cambodian seaside resort.
A step further to deregulate Cambodian skies occurred last week with the National Assembly approving the implementation of the fifth freedom traffic right to all airlines flying into and out of the Kingdom. Fifth freedom traffic right is an international aviation regulation which allows an airline to give full rights to carry passengers from its home point of departure to the arrival destination, and then continue further to a third destination. Speaking to the Phnom Penh Post, Sinn Chanserey Vutha, Spokesman to the State Secretary of Civil Aviation indicated that the “approval of the fifth freedom will help Cambodia to open new markets and attract airline companies by encouraging them to fly to our country. Airlines for instance can fly to Phnom Penh and then on to Siem Reap, Vietnam or Laos for example,” he declared.
The new regulation could then be particularly favourable to further connect Cambodia to overseas destinations or long distance regional flights such as to Indonesia or to the Philippines. It would, for example, help developing routes such as Jakarta-Phnom Penh-Vientiane, or Manila-Phnom Penh-Yangon. It is likely that the new law would benefit most the Cambodian capital air connections to other business destinations or capitals.
The National Assembly is now due to be submitted to Cambodia’s Senate before being implemented.