By THE NATION
Published on September 26, 2009
Bangkok Airways will discontinue its Phnom Penh-Siem Reap route when its aviation agreement expires on October 25, a company official said.
The official said it had been known for some time that the agreement would not be extended after it expired. Cambodia in July established its own airline, Cambodia Angkor Air, which has been servicing that route since its maiden flight on July 28.
Bangkok Airways had earlier set high hopes on establishing a presence in Cambodia.
Mao Havannal, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), was quoted by The Phnom Penh Post as saying a decision was made to give a boost to the new national carrier.
"Now that we have our own domestic airline, Bangkok Airways will not be allowed to continue flights when the agreement finishes on October 25," he said.
Bangkok Airways has been |flying four flights daily between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat, since taking over the route last November, when its Siem Reap Airways subsidiary was grounded by the SSCA.
China's Xinhua News Agency quoted SSCA Cabinet Chief Long Chheng as saying on Thursday that a letter had been sent to Bangkok Airways last week informing it of the decision.
Tourism is one of the only sources of foreign exchange for impoverished Cambodia, which is recovering from nearly three decades of conflict, which ended in 1998.
The kingdom wants to receive 3 million tourists annually by next year.
Bangkok Airways public-relations director ML Nantika Worawan, insists the move will not affect the airline's revenue, because only a half-hour flight is involved. The company will remain focused on the Cambodian market, with four daily round-trip flights from Bangkok to Phnom Penh and five to six a day from Bangkok to Siem Reap.
Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways are among several other foreign airlines also operating direct flights to Cambodia.