Siem Reap International Airport in Cambodia saw its first international flight in 20 months land on Friday. Singapore Airlines has resumed daily flights and is using a Boeing 737 MAX 8 on the two-hour trip north.
Light loads on the first flights from Siem Reap
Before the travel crisis, nearly four million passengers passed through Siem Reap Airport in Cambodia, making it the second busiest airport in the country after Phnom Penh Airport. Typically, around two dozen Asia-based airlines fly, with Singapore Airlines among the most prominent.
However, flights quickly came to a halt in March 2020. Cambodia Airports, the operators of Siem Reap Airport, confirmed that Friday’s flight was the first international service to the airport since then. Friday’s Singapore Airlines flight to Siem Reap carried 67 passengers. The return service to Singapore took off with five passengers on board.
Despite the disappointing figures for the first flights, Alain Brun, CEO of Cambodia Airports, was optimistic.
âThis new step in the relaunch of international connectivity is a positive step for Cambodia. “
Cambodian media are also reporting that Phnom Penh-based Lanmei Airlines resumed flights to Siem Reap on Friday. The airline will serve Phnom Penh and Bangkok twice a week.
We are very happy with the landing this morning at Siem Reap airport for this @SingaporeAir flight, 1st international flight to land here since March 2020.
Good news for Cambodia’s connectivity and for passengers ðhttps://t.co/MIwR76MktB #ReOpeningYourWorld @phnompenhpost
– VINCI airports (@VINCIAAirports) December 17, 2021
Singapore’s 737 MAX 8 to operate services from Siem Reap
A non-quarantine travel corridor is operational between Singapore and Cambodia. Over 83% of Singaporeans are now fully vaccinated. Cambodia is on its heels with more than 81% of the population fully vaccinated. The healthy vaccination figures were enough to convince Cambodian authorities to reopen the country to fully vaccinated visitors.
“Passengers can also easily travel between Cambodia and other international cities via Singapore Airlines’ extensive global flight network,” notes M. Brun.
Daily flights depart Singapore at 08:40 am under the number SQ164. It takes two hours and five minutes to travel the 829 miles (1,334 kilometers) between the two cities, landing at 9:45 am.
The return flight, SQ163, departs Siem Reap at 10:40 a.m. and takes two hours and 35 minutes to travel to Singapore, where it lands at 2:15 p.m.
Fully vaccinated travelers are advised to board one of the flights to Siem Reap, but return flights to Singapore only operate as vaccinated flights (VTL) on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flights to Singapore from Siem Reap operating the remaining three days are not VTL flights.
“The reintroduction of international services between Singapore and Siem Reap is excellent news for our customers”, Singapore Airlines Cambodia Managing Director Zechariah Chai said.
A new airport in prospect in Siem Reap
One of the advantages of flying to Siem Reap is the location of the airport just six kilometers from the city. The airport is even closer to the Angkor Wat temple complex, resulting in flight restrictions.
This is one of the reasons that Singapore Airlines and other airlines returning to Siem Reap will soon land at a posh new airport which is more than halfway through construction and is slated to open in 2023. When it opens , the new airport will be able to accommodate seven million people. passengers every year. This capacity will increase to 20 million by 2050.
Unfortunately, Siem Reap’s new airport is located over 50 kilometers from the city, which kind of takes its shine away.
Meanwhile, as Singapore Airlines and Lanmei Airlines are the first international airlines to return to Siem Reap, the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents (CATA) is reportedly in talks with other airlines to resume flights. Chinese carriers are said to be at the top of CATA’s priority list.