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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt imposes flight ban on Siem Reap Airways

Govt imposes flight ban on Siem Reap Airways

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The temporary measure follows a blacklisting earlier this month by the European Commission on any flights to European Union countries

Photo by:
Tracey Shelton

The Siem Reap Airways offices on Street 214 in Phnom Penh.

THE government has  slapped a temporary flight ban on domestic carrier Siem Reap Airways amid concerns over its safety standards, Chea Aun, director general of the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation, told the Post on Tuesday.

 "The government has decided to stop flights temporarily and replace them with [flights from] its parent company, Bangkok Airways," said Chea Aun.

He added that air service was needed to cater for foreigners, diplomats and tourists, and that the length of the ban would depend on the company's response to questions about its safety record.

"Everything depends on the company. If they are to [resume] operations, they need to follow necessary safety requirements," Chea Aun said.

Siem Reap Airways issued a statement to travel agents on November 20 announcing the airline's suspension of service and assuring all travellers that their reservations would be honoured.

It added that all previously scheduled Siem Reap Airways flights would be picked up by Bangkok Airways, which would accept all tickets issued for the banned carrier.

The statement said Bangkok Airways would operate four daily flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap according to normal flight schedules and beginning on November 22, effectively the start date of the temporary ban.

A statement by the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation said the government had granted permission to Bangkok Airways to operate the Kingdom's main domestic air route.

Bangkok Airways flights would operate in the same time slots as previously used by Siem Reap Airways, the statement said. It added that the route would be serviced by 138-seat Airbus 319 aircraft.

Bad for business

Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodia Association for Travel Agents, said the ban was bad for the image of Cambodian air service.

"We have not discussed this with the airline yet," he told the Post.  "We need to know exactly what happened.... We would like an explanation of what has occurred and when the problems will be fixed."

Siem Reap Airways is a division of Bangkok Airways used exclusively for flights between the capital and Siem Reap, home to the Angkor temples and a major tourist hub.

The European Commission last week announced that it would blacklist all flights from the carrier for not meeting international safety standards.

The European ban prevents Siem Reap Airways from providing air service to any European Union country.

The EC acknowledged in its blacklisting that the carrier currently does not provide air service to any European Union countries.

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