Air France to Stop Flights to Phnom Penh

Just two years after restarting flights between Paris and Phnom Penh, Air France-KLM will cease flying between the two cities in March due to low passenger numbers, a representative of the airline said yesterday.

“We are going to stop the flights at the end of March,” Joep Bruijs, regional director of Air France-KLM’s cargo operations, said by telephone from Bangkok.

Mr. Bruijs said that passenger numbers were not high enough to justify continuing the route. “On the passenger side, we do not cover the cost,” he said, referring further questions to Air France-KLM’s regional manager Herve Moulin, who could not be reached.

Air France-KLM, which resumed commercial flights to Cambodia in March 2011 following a 37-year absence from the country, currently flies three times a week between Paris and Phnom Penh—with a stop in Bangkok—in 309-seat Boeing 777s.

The airline’s first flight since 1974 touched down at Phnom Penh International Airport on March 27, 2011, and was greeted with much fanfare by officials who said the decision by Air France-KLM was a sign of Cambodia’s growing international appeal.

The event was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Air France-KLM’s then-CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon and French Secretary of State for Transport Thierry Mariani.

Ho Vandy, co-chair of the state-private working group on tourism policy, said that he was surprised to hear that Air France-KLM would be terminating its flights to Phnom Penh.

“It’s a surprise for me,” Mr. Vandy said. “We are worried about that and we don’t want to hear about that.”

Mr. Vandy also suggested that in order to prevent other airlines from pulling out of Cambodia, the government and Cambodia Airports, the country’s national airport operator, should work together to provide incentives to airlines such as lower landing, parking and over-flight fees.

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