Cambodia’s aviation industry is almost completely decimated due to travel restrictions triggered by the COVID-19, with air passenger numbers dropping more than 90% as of April this year, according to a report published in the Khmer Times. On a positive note, the sector is expected to make a recovery some time in the second half of the year.
According to Sin Chansereyvutha, spokesperson of the Cambodian State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), passenger numbers fell by more than 20% in January, over 50% in February, over 70% in March and more than 90% in April. Sin said “the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation sector has been “huge.”
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has recently forecast two scenarios on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on either a V or U-shaped scenario.
The V-shaped would compare with the experiences of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. Based on this scenario, the aviation sector drops fast but quickly recovers.
Currently there are no local airline companies that have announced bankruptcy, said Sin. Local carriers are surviving as the Cambodian government’s policy has offered exemption of minimum tax for three months and allowed airlines to set up debt-repayment plans, he added.
In addition, some flights from the Republic of Korea, Japan, China and Dubai are still operating.
At present, Cambodia has five domestic airlines and one national carrier. The majority of the local airlines are targeting the Chinese market, which has also been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are almost no flights in Cambodia; while China allows only one flight per week for one airline from Cambodia. They are losing huge profits and they have cut staff and reduced staff salaries, Sin said.
Though during this tough situation in the aviation sector, there are still some new investments in airports and the expansion of existing international airport.