Emirates, the world's largest airline by international passengers, has become the first UAE carrier to fly to Cambodia, with the launch of a new route yesterday from Dubai to the capital Phnom Penh.
The route is the airline's 13th in South East Asia.
The new daily flights stop en route in Yangon, Myanmar, but through passengers do not disembark. This also allows travellers visiting both Myanmar and Cambodia to fly between the two countries using Emirates aircraft, bypassing Bangkok. At the same time, a previously linked Emirates service from Dubai to Hanoi via Myanmar became a direct, non-stop service. The Phnom Penh flights leave Dubai at 9.15am, departing Yangon at 6.55pm and land in Phnom Penh at 9.25pm local time. The route is served by a Boeing 777-300 and offers business and economy class seats.
Following political change in the 1990s and the dissolving of the Khmer Rouge organisation, which while in government was responsible for the deaths of up to 2 million Cambodians in the 1970s, the country began to open up to tourism. International arrival numbers have been climbing steadily for the past 15 years, reaching 5 million international arrivals in 2016, and the figure is forecast to rise to 8 million by 2020.
The main tourism draw in Cambodia is the spectacular ruined city of Angkor, 320 kilometres outside the capital near Siem Reap, but Phnom Penh, a city with a rapidly rising population now estimated at about 2 million, is becoming an increasingly important tourism and business destination in its own right, with significant modernisation and infrastructure improvements in the past decade. In terms of tourism, the Killing Fields — a number of sites in Cambodia where collectively more than a million people were killed and buried, the Tuol Sleng genocide museum and the Royal Palace feature on most mainstream itineraries. The large number of quality hotels and restaurants are still affordable compared with most destinations. The capital also offers a pit stop between Siem Reap and the southern beaches of Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand.
Emirates said it was keen to capitalise on increased demand for travel to Cambodia from the UAE and beyond, and had designed the route to connect with flights from destinations in Europe, including Paris, London and Frankfurt. The airline said garments and clothing were expected to be popular cargo exports from Phnom Penh.
"We appreciate the support from the Cambodian government and Cambodia Airports for our new air service between Dubai and Cambodia, and look forward to meeting the needs of the travelling public, while helping to boost inbound tourism and trade in the country," said Badr Abbas, the senior vice president for Emirates' commercial operations in the Far East.