Cambodia's only domestic commercial airline has suspended flights until the
tourist high season, citing lack of flyers and the high cost of fuel as reasons
for the move.
President Airlines will resume flights in the "winter
season", around the beginning of October, said Grant Brachmanis, public
Brachmanis cited "low load factors", or insufficient
passenger numbers, as the primary reason for the suspension, but said the rising
cost of fuel has also contributed to the temporary closure.
flights resume, all ticket holders have been transferred to other airlines that
handle the same destinations. Those airlines included PMT Air, Bangkok Airways
and Siem Reap Airways.
Andre Ruys, the general manager of Local
Adventures Travel Agency, which specializes in trips in Cambodia, thinks shoddy
service may have contributed to the temporary grounding.
Airlines was not very reliable," Ruys said. "They would cancel flights one hour
before they were supposed to depart, or change the times and dates for no
reason, or because they didn't have enough fuel or enough passengers
While airlines all over the world are feeling the squeeze of
rising fuel prices and fewer passengers, Brachmanis expresses optimism about his
company's temporary hiatus.
"We're taking advantage of the low season to
restructure our flight reservation system and retrain our staff," Brachmanis
"Right now all our bookings come from Cambodia and Thailand, but
with our new internet booking system we will be able to accept reservations from
all over the world," Brachmanis said. "We won't have another low year like this
President Airlines' international management team also plans to
upgrade service quality. At least two new aircraft will be leased in October,
which Brachmanis says will be faster and more comfortable than the current
The domestic carrier hopes that the upgrades will keep them
competitive with foreign companies such as Singapore-based Tiger Airways and
Thai-owned AirAsia, which will soon add flights in Cambodia to their regular
President Airlines began flying in 1997 and has outlived at
least eight other airlines that have come and gone in Cambodia's fragile
If Local Adventures is any indication, however, upgrades
in service, comfort and booking may not be enough to save Cambodia's
longest-running commercial airline.
"In the beginning we used them
because they were cheaper, but then we realized for a few dollars more we could
offer a better service," Ruys said. "So we stopped using them about a year