Chartered direct flights from Taiwan to Cambodia were re-launched on February 7 by Taiwanese airline Far Eastern Air Transport, one year after the company abruptly suspended the flights over a dispute with its Cambodian airline partner over unpaid aviation fuel.
The flights from Taoyuan International Airport, located 50 kilometres from the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, to Siem Reap International Airport are being organised with its new partner, a Taiwanese travel agency, said a source with knowledge of the deal.
Six flights have been organised from Taoyuan to Siem Reap and back for this month, the source added.
Flights have been re-launched because the route is popular among travellers from both countries, said Grace Yu, Far Eastern’s public relations specialist.
Airlines typically use chartered flights, organised via private hiring arrangements, as “market testing” for demand for flights into a country prior to deciding whether to start regular scheduled flights, said state secretary of the Council of Ministers, Tek Reth Samrach.
“To me, Siem Reap is very important to all airlines,” he said. Angkor Wat is set to be a top tourist destination, and airlines that want to remain competitive need to prepare to start flying into Siem Reap, he added.
Local travel agency World Express Tours & Travel’s managing director, Ho Vandy, said he gets “not a lot” of Taiwanese customers in a year – about 200, or 10 per cent of his clientele.
Recently, air services between Taiwan and Cambodia involving Far Eastern air transport have hit turbulence.
In May 2008, Angkor Airways, which had been leasing planes from Far Eastern, halted its Taiwan-Cambodia flights when the head of Angkor Airway’s Taiwan branch, Alex Lou, was held in custody for allegedly embezzling money from Far Eastern.
In February 2012, Far Eastern grounded a plane it leased to local charter airline Tonlesap at Taoyuan, saying the company owed about $105,000 in aviation fuel fees. This had left more than 200 Taiwanese tourists stranded for over 10 hours. During that period, Lou was Tonlesap’s director.
Meanwhile, Far Eastern restarted its services in April 2011 after announcing its bankruptcy and suspending all flights in May 2008 due to a series of financial crises.
To contact the reporter on this story: Low Wei Xiang at [email protected]