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Bangkok Airways to reduce fuel surcharge

BANGKOK Airways and Siem Reap Airways have reduced their fuel surcharges by 15 percent for all international and domestic flights, a BA sales department officer told the Post on Thursday.

Surcharges on flights between Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam will be reduced to US$40 from $45," the spokesman said.

"The reduction is being made because of a drop in the price of international crude."

A manager at the Phnom Penh office of Siem Reap Airways, who requested anonymity, said all airlines faced difficulties when international oil prices hit US$150 per barrel, but that now it has dropped to less than $90 per barrel.

"We decided to lower the fuel surcharge because of a drop in the international price," the manager said.

He added that while fuel surcharges would fall, the price of airfares would remain the same.

"We do not want to take advantage of people and try to earn more money after the price of crude has already dropped," he said, adding that all passengers would immediately notice the cost of airfare is cheaper because of the drop in the surcharge.

So Mara, secretary of state for the Ministry of Tourism, said the move would further strengthen the sector by improving services.

"We have to improve all types of services, especially in the tourism sector," he said.

Cambodia is recognised by international travellers as a safe and politically stable destination, insulated from regional crises and connected to several Asean nations by direct flights, So Mara said.

"If we use this advantage [drop in surcharge] to improve service, the tourism industry will remain a major source of income for national growth," he said.

In a related story, Thai Airways International said it is cutting flights, especially on regional routes, due to a sharp drop in passenger demand.

"The situation has deteriorated from bad to worse, well beyond our expectation. [It] is becoming more critical for us to reassess our frequencies,'' executive vice president Pandit Chanapai told the Bangkok Post.

The extent of the cuts has yet to be worked out and Thai may take steps such as merging flights to suit passenger numbers and contain losses, he said.

Thai's cabin factor in September dropped more than it expected and the deepening political strife in Thailand  is making conditions worse.

The airline's passenger load factor was only 70 percent in the third quarter.

"What is terrible about the current political crisis is in its open-ended nature.

"Unlike 9/11, SARS and the tsunami, we don't know when it will end,'' Pandit told the Bangkok Post.

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