AirAsia launches direct flights from KL to Sihanoukville

Low-cost carrier AirAsia has announced the launch of a new route between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the Cambodian coastal city of Sihanoukville, with the first flights to start in August, Phnom Penh Post reports.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN,  AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes told the outlet that the Cambodian government had been repeatedly requesting for the carrier to launch service to Sihanoukville.

“The government has asked me many times to do it, and now we’ve done it,” he said.

Cambodia’s coastal town has long been a gateway to some of Cambodia’s most prized beaches.

Hotel and travel companies have capitalized on the popularity of the nearby islands and coast, with many casinos in the town turning into integrated hotels.

In 2015, Sihanoukville airport handled a total of 84,897 passengers, with total arrivals at 46,732, up 96 per cent and 84 per cent year-on-year, respectively.

The growth in passenger traffic to Cambodia reflects a growing international awareness of the Southeast Asian country as a tourist destination, Fernandes said.

“On my flight to Phnom Penh today there were people from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Ukraine, and they were telling me why they were coming to Cambodia. It was eye-opening for me,” he said.