Cambodia and Japan on Wednesday signed an agreement that would allow the launch of direct scheduled flights between the two countries.
The pact was signed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh by Japanese Ambassador Yuji Kumamaru and Mao Havannall, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation.
“It is anticipated that this Agreement will allow for the stable operation of scheduled flights between Japan and Cambodia, and will further promote people-to-people and economic exchanges,” said a statement released by Japan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the agreement came only after careful planning by the Japanese government to ensure that there was sufficient demand for direct flights.
“Before the agreement, Japan observed Cambodia and how many tourists would be needed for the flight to possibly work,” he said after the signing ceremony.
In the first 10 months of last year, 175,081 Japanese tourists visited Cambodia, 5.9 percent more than visited the country in 2013, according to the Tourism Ministry.
Khek Norinda, communications director for Cambodia Airports, said Wednesday that All Nippon Airways was the airline most seriously considering launching direct scheduled flights to Cambodia.
“They plan to launch flights during October to March to test the waters. It makes sense they launch the flight during the high season, but this is not confirmed,” Mr. Norinda said.
“But they need to study the market first and come up with a suitable plan,” he added.
Japan Airlines is currently the only carrier that flies directly between Cambodia and Japan, though only through a season charter service. The airline will resume its seasonal operations between Siem Reap to Tokyo on Friday.
Kuro Niya, a counselor for the Japanese Embassy in Phnom Penh, said earlier this week that scheduled flights would be a boon to both Japanese tourists and the approximately 2,000 Japanese nationals living in Cambodia, a population that is growing by about 10 percent every year.
“There are over 200,000 Japanese that come [to Cambodia] per year, but they have to go via Hanoi and Bangkok,” he said.