Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia Datuk Seri Hasan Malek pose for a group photo for the Malindo Air’s maiden flight to Phnom Penh. Pic by HASHINI KAVISHTRI KANNAN.

PHNOM PENH: Malindo Air commenced its maiden flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) today.

Flight OD850 departed at about 8am from KLIA, with 125 passengers on board including Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia Datuk Seri Hasan Malek along with six local media representatives.

Upon touchdown at the Phnom Penh International Airport, the aircraft was given a water cannon salute by the Cambodia officials and airport authorities and staff.

This was followed by a "Chhai Yam", local dance to welcome the passengers.

Hasan said the entry of Malindo Air into the aviation industry here shows the Cambodian government's level trust and seal of approval of Malaysian companies and businesses.

"As Malaysians, we need to continue to protect this trust by practising commendable business ethics and remember to that we are bearing our country's name whenever we do business abroad," he said.

Malindo Air's effort in bringing new alternative to existing airlines will definitely boost business especially in the tourism sector of both counties, Hasan said.

"I hope Malindo Air will be able to create more buzz for Cambodians to visit Malaysia. I hope it will inspire more Malaysian companies to start their business in Cambodia," he added.

Malindo Air Government Relation Director Raja Sa'adi Raja Amrin said Cambodia was the 17th country in its network.

"This is in line with our continuous effort to make KLIA a transit hub and we are undertaking necessary efforts to penetrate the Cambodian market.

"Phnom Penh as the capital city of Cambodia is an ideal destination for both business and leisure travel.

"This new route will strengthen our network with more travellers coming in to Kuala Lumpur or transit to the cities beyond," he said during a press conference at the inaugural ceremony today.

He said Malindo Air will have dally flight to Phnom Penh.

"Our flight leaves KLIA at 8am and arrives at 8.55am (Cambodian time) everyday. The same flight will depart from the Cambodian airport at 9.45am and arrive at 12.35pm (Malaysian time)," he said.

The new route will be operated by Boeing 737-800 with a seating capacity of 18 - 12 Business Class seats and 168 Economy seats.

Raja Sa'adi also said passengers on board the plane will have ample legroom, 25 kg baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment and complimentary snacks," he said.

He said the airlines officials were also looking at expanding more routes from KLIA to other parts of Cambodia.

"We also want to engage with the Cambodian Airport authorities and Cambodian tourism industry to increase the number of Cambodia travellers to Malaysia as it is understood to be relatively low.

"We have a strong number of Malaysians visiting the country but the number is quite low the other way. We need to tackle this and attract more Cambodian travellers to come to Malaysia," he added.

Cambodia Airports chief executive officer Eric Delobel who was also present at the event said travellers from Malaysia were steadily rising and were among the top 5 at Phnom Penh International Airport.