BANGKOK (eTN) – It took some 40 years for a dream to come true again. National French carrier, Air France, has announced that it will fly back to Phnom Penh starting March 27, 2011. From the fifties to the early seventies, Pochentong International Airport regularyl welcomed the flights from Air France, which used to serve the route in the seventies with a Boeing 707. The national carier helped also to create Cambodia’s historical national carrier, Royal Air Cambodge.
However, Cambodia’s tragic involvement into the Vietnam war and its consequent collapse in 2001 with the arrivals of the Khmers Rouges put then a definitive end to Air France’s presence on Cambodian territory. In the early nineties, following Cambodia’s political stabilization and its slow opening to the world, Air France came back to the city again, however, with an off-line representation office.
From March, France national carrier will propose three weekly flights with a stop-over in Bangkok. The route will be served by an Airbus A340-300 with a total capacity for 275 passengers. Air France plans to use at a later stage the Boeing 777-200, boosting capacity to 309 passengers.
According to Luc Delaplace, Air France-KLM general manager for Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos, “By resuming flights between Phnom Penh and Paris, Air France not only demonstrates its confidence in the economic potential of Cambodia but also its determination to further develop [a] strong regional presence in the Mekong region. Air France will then become the sole network carrier operating regular services to Cambodia out of Europe.”
The return of Air France to Phnom Penh is also a victory for the Société Concessionaire des Aéroports, SCA, which operates Cambodia’s three largest airports (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville). For Nicolas Deviller, CEO of SCA, “The return of Air France is a testament of confidence in the traffic growth potential between France and Cambodia. In 2010, approximately 70,000 French national passengers should be traveling through Cambodian airports. The Air France flights will be instrumental in generating more traffic between the two countries and in further raising Cambodia’s profile.”
With the addition of the French national carrier, Phnom Penh International Airport will be served by 410 flights per week connecting the Cambodian capital to 22 destinations. Last year, Phnom Penh Pochentong airport welcomed close to 1.7 million passengers.