TOURISM operators have slammed the government’s decision not to renew Bangkok Airways’ permit to fly domestic routes, saying the government-owned carrier that now monopolises domestic skies does not have sufficient capacity for the upcoming peak tourist season.
Cambodian Association of Travel Agents President Ang Kim Eang said he was worried about capacity on Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA), the only operator licensed to fly domestic routes since Bangkok Airways' permit expired Saturday.
Ho Vandy, co-chairman of the Government-Private Sector Forum’s Tourism Working Group, said some passengers had already started catching the bus because of problems transferring between the carriers. “The CAA needs to increase the number of flights to meet tourist demand,” he said. “Don’t let them take the bus.”
The new airline’s capacity was was put to an impromptu test Saturday when Bangkok Airways cancelled its last flights out of both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Bangkok Airways’ deputy manager of international media relations, Ekkaphon Nanta O’Sot, said affected passengers were transferred to CAA, but that not all could get on the next available flight, causing some disruptions.
Lav Heng, general manager at VLK Royal Tourism Co, also slammed CAA for what he said was a plan to increase ticket prices by an average of $10 due to high demand.
Soy Sokhan, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation undersecretary in charge of CAA, denied a price hike was planned. He also said CAA would increase the number of flights offered and would add one more ATR72 aircraft to its fleet next January.