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Siem Reap Air tries to calm fears over jobs

Siem Reap Air tries to calm fears over jobs

091026_07
Baggage handlers unload bags from a Bangkok Airways flight at Siem Reap International Airport.

With the end of domestic flights by parent firm Bangkok Air, some flight attendants are reportedly looking for employment

I have no problems ... Bangkok Airways still has international flights.

SIEM Reap Airways moved to allay employment fears among Cambodian cabin crew working for its parent company Bangkok Airways as the Thai airline operated its last flights on domestic routes Saturday.

In a letter to staff obtained by the Post, Siem Reap Airways General Manager Terry Alton said the employment of all staff, including captains, first officers and cabin crew, would “continue as it has since last November”, referring to the month the airline ceased commercial operations after being blacklisted by the European Commission.

Neither Siem Reap Airways nor Bangkok Airways runs domestic flights in Cambodia since the latter’s licence expired without renewal at the weekend.

In the letter to staff, Alton said he had heard reports that “indicate captains, first officers and cabin crew will be suspended from duty as from 25 October 2009.

"I would like to make it absolutely clear that this is not correct,” he wrote, adding that the airline is close to resuming full operations.

Alton said in an interview that he planned to discuss the matter with staff in person Tuesday after sending the letter Friday.

Bangkok Airways Deputy Manager of International Media Relations Ekkaphon Nanta O’Sot said Friday that the employment of cabin staff was a matter for Siem Reap Airways, as they were employed only on domestic routes, but confirmed that pilots were employed by Bangkok Airways and would continue to be scheduled on international flights.

A Bangkok Airways pilot, who previously flew for Siem Reap Airways but is now an employee of the Thai airline, said he had no concerns over his future employment.

“I have no problems because Bangkok Airways still has international flights,” said the pilot, who asked not to be identified. “The government has only closed domestic flights.”

However, the pilot said he was paid on the number of landings he made and was worried that he would be scheduled on fewer flights with the end of Siem Reap-Phnom Penh route. He added that concerns were rising among cabin staff.

One flight attendant said she had already had an interview for a job with the new national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA). The attendant, who asked to remain anonymous, said co-workers had also applied to CAA due to mounting fears over their jobs.

Bangkok Airways took over the routes from Siem Reap Airways last November, using cabin crew on loan from the grounded airline. Staff continued to be employed by the domestic subsidiary, which is currently in negotiations with aircraft owners to lease a plane for registration in Cambodia. It has been cleared by the government for takeoff as soon as it registers a plane locally.

Bangkok Airways flew its last domestic routes between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh on Saturday after the government said last month it would not renew the permit as the part government-owned carrier CAA was operating.

CAA is a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Vietnam Airlines, which owns 49 percent.

It emerged this month that the airline has not yet been registered in Cambodia and is flying under a Vietnam Airlines air operator certificate as it completes local registration processes.

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