An Airbus A320-232, operated by charter firm Small Planet Airlines Poland, is seen in Burgas airport, November 19, 2015. REUTERS/Bulphoto Agency
Low-cost carrier Small Planet Airlines is planning a direct flight between Siem Reap and Tokyo, with the maiden flight likely to take off early next year, an official at the Ministry of Tourism said.

Top Sopheak, spokesman at the ministry, said that Small Planet Airlines will launch a direct flight between Siem Reap International Airport and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport in the beginning of 2019.

“Small Planet Airlines has announced recently in Japan that they will start flying from Narita to Siem Reap in an attempt to increase the number of visitors from Japan to Cambodia and vice versa,” Mr Sopheak said.

Small Planet Airlines will be the second carrier to connect the countries with a direct flight. In 2016, All Nippon Airways (ANA) launched its Phnom Penh-Narita route.

Sin Chansereyvutha, spokesman at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said he has not been informed by the company of its plans, but that the airline has every right to operate the route.

“We gave them the Air Operator Certificate last year, so if they want to start flying to a new destination, they just need to inform us so that we can contact the destination and facilitate the process,” Mr Sinsereyvutha said.

Ho Vandy, secretary-general of Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, welcomed the prospect of a new flight between Cambodia and Japan.

“With ANA’s direct flight from Tokyo to Phnom Penh, the number of Japanese visitors rose dramatically, as well as the number of Cambodians travelling to Japan. This new flight will further boost those numbers,” Mr Vandy said.