Inauguration of new national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air on July 27 to be held at Phnom Penh International Airport, according to revised government plans.
THE government has announced that the July 27 inaugural flight of the new national airline will not leave from the newly upgraded Preah Sihanouk International Airport, but will instead fly from Phnom Penh International Airport.
Mao Havannal, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said the airport's French development company hopes to persuade French President Nicolas Sarkozy to attend the airport opening as a guest of honour later this year.
Cambodia Angkor Air's inaugural flight was meant to coincide with the official opening of Preah Sihanouk International Airport. Mao Havannal said the airport would officially open later this year but would be used in the meantime for between two and four daily flights between Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airports.
"We have changed the opening schedule of Preah Sihanouk International Airport to November because the French development firm asked to suspend it in order to invite the French president or his representative to join the inauguration," he said.
He said the presence of the French president would be most welcome since the development company is French firm Societe Concessionaire de l'Aeroport.
However Koy Kuong, the undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he did not know whether Prime Minister Hun Sen had invited President Sarkozy to visit Cambodia. Hun Sen has just completed a five-day state trip to France.
The minister of tourism, Thong Khon, confirmed the switch, and said the inaugural flights would go from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
"The new airport is fully developed and equipped with modern, high-tech facilities that meet international standards. Now we are just waiting for the official inauguration, but I am not sure when that will be," he said.
Thong Khon said the upgraded airport would benefit the tourism industry, as it would allow foreign visitors to access the coastal province easily from Siem Reap.
"Having our own domestic airline will mean visitors won't have to travel overland to get to Preah Sihanouk province," he said.
CAA is a joint venture between the Cambodian government and state-owned Vietnam Airlines. Cambodia owns a 51-percent stake in the company, and Vietnam owns the remainder.